(March 22, 2013) -- Andrea Petkovic has had a busy five years. During that time, she demolished her ACL, suffered from a stress fracture in her back, severely sprained her ankle, and ruptured her meniscus. Oh, and she started a successful YouTube channel while also working her way into the WTA top 10.
Petkovic is currently in the midst of what she hopes will be the last comeback of her career, playing just her second tournament back after a meniscus tear at this year’s Hopman Cup. But unlike some injured players who drop off the publicity radar once their rankings drop out of the top 100, fans have closely followed Petkovic’s recovery; her unique personality setting her apart from the sometimes indistinguishable group of “-ic’s” and “-ova’s” on the WTA Tour.
Though Petkovic, or “Petkorazzi” as she’s known to her YouTube followers, admits she’s not sure why people are so invested in her career, she appreciates the encouragement.
“I feel so thankful and grateful for the support,” she told Tennis Now from the Sony Open in Miami. “It just feels like there are so many people who are paying attention, taking care of me, and screaming during points.”
In fact, Petkovic found herself getting emotional during her Indian Wells doubles match with good friend and fellow German Angelique Kerber.
“I made a great shot and there was one guy who screamed, ‘Petko, we love you! We have missed you so much!’ I started tearing up, and my partner was like, ‘Petko, please…,’” she said, laughing. “[Those things] just make playing so much more enjoyable. It makes me feel like I’m in the place where I belong.
A fit 5’11”, Petkovic is as athletic as they come. And despite a current ranking of 162, she certainly looked like she belonged back at the top with a commanding win Thursday over 11th-ranked Marion Bartoli in the Sony Open second round. Bartoli retired with an ankle injury down 1-4 in the second set, but Petkovic looked confident in her game, and more importantly, her footwork.
“I was really satisfied with my movement because that is what I am paying most attention to right now after my injuries,” she said. “Also my strokes felt really fluid. Technically I was playing really good. I was sticking to the match plan that my coach gave me.”
As positive as Petkovic is feeling right now, she admits that the meniscus tear had her wondering whether she could make her way back yet again. Well-educated and an avid reader (she lists Wilde and Goethe among her favorite authors), Petkovic had alternate routes to choose from. At 25 years old, no one would have blamed her for deciding to move on from professional tennis. Ironically, it was her search for a second career that had her running, or in this case hobbling, back to the sport she loves.
“I did actually ask for a few internships,” she said. “I asked a few magazines if I could do an internship. I asked a few politicians that I know if I could do an internship. They all told me you can come whenever you want, and you can stay as long as you want. But I never really wanted.”
Petkovic appropriately went on to describe her tennis career as a “book that is not finished yet.” In an effort to add as many pages to that book as possible, she’s adjusted her practice schedule, moving to shorter, more efficient workouts.
“If you hit 1,000 balls, you just don’t care,” she explained. “You’re like a machine. You do it because you have to do it. Now, every stroke I try to feel every ball that I hit. It just makes more sense to me somehow.”
Petkovic seems at peace with the comeback process and says her current goal is to gain direct entry into the main draw of a Grand Slam. Of course, she’s also still hoping to get back to the career-high ranking of No. 9 that she achieved in 2011.
“If you gave me a piece of paper that says in two years you’re going to be back to the top ten, I would sign it immediately,” she said. “It’s tough when you were in the top 10 once to now settle for something less.”
For now, Petkovic says she’s trying to enjoy what she says has been a “great journey.” And for those wondering when her post-match “Petko” dance will make its grand return, well, she says you’d better keep your eyes peeled.
“I put it on timeout for awhile, but if I feel really happy, it can always come out spontaneously. You have to be really aware!”
Fans aren't the only ones happy to see Petkovic back on the court. Novak Djokovic gave her a shout out in the following video. According to his Twitter page, the two are trying to organize a joint WTA/ATP Harlem Shake in Miami.