That's one of many reasons why it was fail, Petra decided to escape pressure instead of slowly getting used to it by trying to defend her title in Brisbane and getting confidence of winning premier title(from 2012 Brisbane is premier level) with relatively easy field plus having whole week to recover and gather your thoughts if she lost early. Petra decided to overplay herself by playing in HC and Sydney, we all know pressure before slam was huge on her and she didn't helped her case by playing in Sydney and collapsing to Li Na. In the end she started AO with crushed confidence, almost no time to recover and even more raised expectation because of 'must win to get to #1' bullshit and we all know how this ended with another collapse, same thing happened in USO where she just ran out of energy and mental strength to fight because she decided to play Montreal-Cincy-New Haven combo after disappointing Olympics for her and not that bright season overall. This year they repeated fail but it had even bigger impact on Petra's confidence because she played just awful. Petra lost early in Brisbane and i thought she didn't played that bad vs Pavs and Nastia was on fire there, so nothing to be ashamed of since it's just warm up event blah blah blah and instead of trying to work on your game, getting used to new fitness regime and rebooting yourself before slam she goes once again to Sydney where she gets double breadsticked in 1r by Pome of all people basically flushing all the reaming confidence down the drain.
I think it'll be very hard to agree for both of us. In my opinion the certainty of at least 3 matches against good opponents at Hopman Cup is great for Petra to cheer her up and gain confidence. I'm not sure if she wanted to escape the pressure, she wanted to prepare her self for the grand slam and didn't care about the no.1 spot so any pressure from reaching this spot was irrelevant to her if that was true.
Only kind of pressure was about her chances to win the AO.
And I don't think her loss to Pova in the SF was "another collapse". It was very close match in which Petra wasn't able to utilize her chances and Kotyza also didn't seem to teach her something new from their last meeting.
I share your opinion about Sydney in 2011, the timing of this tournament is not great if she plays in QF or in further rounds (same thing with New Haven).
In 2012 it was terrible loss which destroyed her confidence even more but who knows if not playing there would help to win more rounds at AO. It wouldn't change her form and she said that she had lost in 1st round of Sydney because her confidence was already destroyed in Brisbane.
Who knows it wouldn't happen also in 2012 if she played there?
Don't even start with Katowice, she played okayish there considering it was her first clay tournament and at least she lived up to her seeding reaching final but once again she just collapsed, completely giving up after close 1st set then was disaster in FC. Next was not that bright Rome-Madrid combo that didn't raised her confidence level either. RG was interesting because after being almost outplayed by journeywomen Petra and Kotyza reacted with right level of urgency and sensitivity by adjusting her game but after it happened complete brain freeze. I find it very funny, she used to be queen of playing fast and decisively but now she gets outplayed by anyone who can force her to move just tiny bit and she shanks almost all her returns on the move now, tho she was best in smacking winners on the run
Katowice was just an example (probably I should stop using examples which are not 100% perfect and just write theoretically and in general all the time
The rest is about her form and state of mind and it's for a longer, much longer discussion.