An interview with: ANDREA PETKOVIC
After she beat Petra Kvitova 63 63 in the third round of the Western & Southern Open.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
It’s been a great tennis history in Germany, and it’s been a while since they’ve had a top 10 player. How have you been received back home with your accomplishments as of late?
I don’t know actually, because I haven’t been back and I don’t read the newspapers. I mean, I read newspapers, but not the tennis part. So I really don’t know. But I guess that it’s been a big deal. You know, I’m only the sixth player to have reached the top 10 in Germany. I dropped out already, so it doesn’t really matter. But it was a nice feeling for a week, and I really hope I’ll get back there. The thing is it’s not only about me. It’s about the other two girls as well who are playing so well. That brings our tennis so much more into focus. Because before we always had someone who was playing well, but it’s normal that you have highs and lows. There was nobody else backing it up. Now we have three girls who are really backing it up. So when I have a bad phases, Julia goes there and wins Stuttgart; when she doesn’t feel so well, Sabine goes there and plays semis in Wimbledon. That makes it like it has more foundation now, and it’s a good feeling for us girls in Germany.
You backed it up a little better the last few weeks.
Yeah, I’ve been playing good tennis, but I think more important also I won matches where I didn’t feel so well, where I was struggling with my health and with my mental status. So I’ve been winning these matches, and that gave me more confidence than winning matches like today where I really played well and where I found my game in order and in place. These matches where you don’t feel well and you pull through and fight through are more important, especially before a Grand Slam. You know, to know that you can win those matches is very important for the confidence.
Was is a little bit weird playing the Wimbledon champion on Court 9 with no crowd there?
Well, actually I really like the court, because I played two times on the grandstand and it was never full. Court 9 was actually more filled than the grandstand when I played, I think. But it was change, but obviously in a tournament like this there was so many great matches, I wouldn’t now how to make the schedule myself. It was fine. As along as you win, you don’t really care.
Seemed like you had a lot of crowd support out there today. Did you feel like that?
Yeah, I was actually surprised. Seemed like there were many, many Petko fans out there. I’ve been received well here in the States. I feel like there are a lot of fans who know my blogs or are watching my videos, follow me on Twitter. It’s been nice playing here and getting the attention.
Seems like you guys exchanged a couple words at the net.
Uh-huh. I think I said it already before, Petra and I are good friends, we always talk. She has asthma or something, I’m not really sure, but she struggles when it’s really hot and humid. So I just told her that I hope she gets better and I hope that she’s going to be fine for the US Open. I asked her if she is playing a tournament before and she said no. So that was basically it. But we’ve known each other for so long and I really, really like her. She’s a great girl. She stayed the same after all her success, she stayed exactly the same as she was before, and I really respect that a lot.
You talked about your Facebook, Twitter, and blog stuff. You also have a burgeoning recording career. I heard a song that you…
Do you plan on doing more of that?
No, not at all. (Laughing.) That was so bad. You know, I never thought in my life that I would be publically known and that people would actually listen to that song, so big mistake in my youth.
That happened before all the other stuff, the song?
Yeah, it happened like — the song is like four or five years old, I think, three or four years old. I thought it was fun in the beginning; I actually liked it in the beginning. When I listen to it now, I feel like, Ahhh…
But it’s been fun. Yeah, it’s been fun.
Who were the players you looked up to?
Well, there are several. Of course Steffi because she was always somebody who was there and was such a great role model, off the court more than on the court actually. But I have to say one of my big idols was always Serena when I was growing up, because I felt like she revolutionized tennis somehow. She came on court and she had this great energy and this great vibe and she just really brought rock and roll to tennis. I really like that, and I loved watching her play all the time. It’s a little strange now being with her at the same tournaments, so I have to control my idolizing. It’s cool. It’s a big honor for me being able to play her maybe someday again.
Did you get to interact with Serena here?
No, here I didn’t see her at all; in Toronto I saw her — or somewhere else, I don’t know — and I told her, I’m really glad you’re back. And I really feel that way. But I mean, I don’t talk to her a lot. Just like hi, hi, and that’s it.
Have you been in touch with Steffi since you hit with her in Germany?
Yeah, we have. We talked during Fed Cup and she always sends me regards through Barbara, our Fed Cup captain. They’re always in close contact and keeping in touch. So she always sends me her regards. Actually she was in Ger-many and we wanted to meet up, but I wasn’t there. I hope that maybe Indian Wells we going to see each other again. But she promised me that she will come to one Fed Cup match, so maybe – hopefully – I’m going to invite her to come to the match against the Czech Republic.
You’ve talked in the past about being part German and part Serbian. Which parts are which?
I always say I’m German but I have a Serbian heart. You know, because the emotions that I live and that I go through and all my passion for the sport, I feel like it’s more Serbian. Also the negative emotions that come through sometimes that I cannot control, I feel like they are more Serbian. But the way I live, the way I structure my life, the way I think not only in like about society, about politics, it’s more German. I feel like really I’ve been educated really quite German. So it’s always a tough part. But there is a Serbian soul in me, I guess.
So many players from that region are doing well.
Yeah, it’s incredible. I think it’s definitely one thing is the genes, because we are all tall, strong like, I don’t know, bears. (Laughter.) So it’s really in the genes. I mean, everybody, it doesn’t matter if you say Zimonjic, Troicki, Tipsarevic, Ana, Jankovic — well, Jelena is a little smaller, but she’s also 178. So we are all tall and we all have the strength and the power. It’s just in the genes. And we eat meat all the time. We eat like five kilos of meat every day. It has to come from somewhere. (Laughter.)
A lot Croatians are doing well, too. Is there a lot similarity between the countries?
You know, the thing is we do have a similar mentality. The thing is, the Balkan region, they were never scared. It doesn’t matter if it’s in politics or in sports. Also if you see the soccer team in Serbia, they always beat Germany, France, Brazil, and then they lose to Australia, I don’t know, China. I don’t want to hurt anybody. Because, you know, when they play the big ones, they are like, Yeah, we are gonna kick their ass. Come on. Let’s do this. They have this little bad touch that they like to underestimate weaker opponents. I’m happy that I also have the German education so I don’t underestimate anybody. I feel like sometimes the Balkan people tend to underestimate people. Although the tennis players not, but in soccer we have this problem.
It’s interesting you said you read the newspapers but not the tennis bits.
Do you go online and read the German press?
No, not at all.
Because you’re interested in politics, right?
Yeah, I am. I read — I don’t know if you know the Spiegel magazine, and actually I think they boycott sports because they never have sports. They have like if Bayan beats Real once in 20 years, they put it like somewhere. So I always only read Spiegel. I really would have to win three Grand Slams to be there. If I reach that, I’m going to stop tennis, I think.
This week, the WTA released some stats about how the social media has taken off within the WTA. You’re a part of that. Talk a little bit about how you’ve been able to use Twitter and Facebook and other ways to brand yourself and kind of control the way that you’re perceived among fans; whereas maybe other players have to rely on sponsors or the tour to do that.
Yeah, well, that’s right. You know what I really like about the social media, also me not having agent, but I really have everything under my control. So I have the control about the image that I want to to give to the public and about the image that I want to be received from the public. And the thing that’s most important for me, because I don’t feel comfortable on court, if I feel like I have to act somebody that I’m not and if I cannot stay true to myself. I need sometimes that people say, Okay, why is she dancing? Is this necessary? Why is this? Why is that? Okay, they can keep telling this to me and they keep saying this, but I need this stuff to stay true to myself, otherwise I would go crazy. Tennis can be really one dimensional and I’m not one dimensional. I need these other things to live myself to the fullest, not only on the court but off the court as well. I really feel like with the social media, with Twitter and Facebook, I have it understand my control and I can give as much personality as I want to the public. The way I’ve lived it, it’s been received well. Of course there are always people who don’t like me. When you’re extreme, there are always going to be people that hate you more than love you. That’s okay for me, because I have a lot of love to give, even to those people. (Laughter.)