Andrea Petković on umpires, coaching situation and Fed Cup

Original source: Tennisnet – http://tennisnet.com/de/damen/fedcup/4675714/WTATour_Andrea-Petkovic-exklusiv-Da-muss-ich-jetzt-schon-auch

“I have to criticize the WTA there”

Miss Petković, the WTA tournament in Doha had a bitter end for you. What happened?

My opponent played very well. And I had injured my back a little bit.

You already were complaining about back pain the days before, but that had always gone away after on-court treatment. Did you go into the match injured or did it happen during the match?

No, it wasn’t injured going into the match. At the beginning, I think at 1-2 in the first set, I ran to a corner and then I just pulled my back.

What’s next for you now?

After flying home I will try to work with my physio to get a handle on things. After that Indian Wells is next. At least it’s a little break until then.

Before [the loss] you at least managed to score two wins against Kirsten Flipkens and Zarina Diyas – a revenge for the scandalous match from the previous week. How happy were you that this time, especially against Diyas, Hawkeye was available?

Ohh, very happy! (laughs) There were again a few close calls. I once again had the feeling that many things were ruled against me a couple of times when I served or returned really well on break point. She hits the ball out of the stadium, my ball gets incorrectly called out and then it’s “replay the point” and you have to start from the beginning. That was really annoying. But maybe I’m just imagining things when I go into a match paranoid like that. (laughs) You probably shouldn’t give much thought to what I’m telling you. (laughs)

What kind of impression do you have: are umpires not brave enough anymore and just rely on Hawkeye?

I have the impression that there a really big differences. There are really, really good umpires like Kader Nouni, Marija Cicak or Mohamed Lahyani. It has, I think, a lot to do with experience. They don’t care about Hawkeye, they call it how they see it. You believe them. And I think I have to criticize the WTA there. I thought it was really bad in Dubai that they put the best [umpires] on Center Court, where there is Hawkeye anyway, because it looks good on TV when the umpires perform well. There [on Center Court] all calls could be reversed at anytime. And on the outer courts they put some umpires that I have never seen before in my life. That means that, from the start, you have less trust in them than if Kader is sitting up there and says “It was out,” and you know, he has umpired 470 matches and he is probably right. He looks at you and says “Andrea, no discussions with me,” and then I just turn around and play on. It’s about the experience of the umpire, it has a lot to do with how he umpires a match. But that doesn’t excuse my hissy fit.

Do you regret that?

That just must not happen to me as a pro. There were many reasons. I was tired, I had just arrived from Antwerp, jet lag, whatever. But that must not happen. I was lucky that my racket didn’t hit anybody, it’s just inexcusable. But still, I think the good umpires should be on the courts where there is no Hawkeye – if they must have courts without it.

So you believe many umpires on outer courts are just in over their heads?

Exactly. Because I believe that out there they let the inexperienced ones just go at it, that’s the feeling I’m getting. Of course they have to make their experiences, but I question why they don’t let them do it on courts with Hawkeye. On one hand they have more pressure on these courts because the TV is there, there you have to prove yourself. On the other hand it doesn’t decide matches when they make mistakes, on Center Court the points get replayed. For me it decided the set, but it’s not just about me, but also in general. That’s my personal opinion about it.

Different topic: Eric van Harpen and you split in November. What does your coaching situation look like now? Here in Doha you were coached by Dirk Dier, who is also part of the Fed Cup and Davis Cup coaching staff. Is that more than an interim solution for you?

We will see. There’s a certain conflict of interest with Dirk, probably. If I’m playing another German he probably would have to sit somewhere else. So that’s why it is probably not the best solution, even though I really love working with him and I feel really with him during Fed Cup, too. He is a great coach and a great guy, so positive and nice. So that’s why I have to think about it after Doha. And then there also was Boric Conkic with me here. He initially started as hitting partner for me, but he has a great tennis brain and he sees a lot and he is really great. I want to keep him in my team. And if I could add an experienced personality, that would be great. But nothing has worked out so far. But I would like to keep Dirk on my side for some time. These two complement each other very well, they work together nicely.

Are you going to talk about this with your Fed Cup teammates and the captain, Barbara Rittner?

I have already asked Barbara, that goes without saying. I had already asked her before the tie against Australia, if she would be ok with it for the time while I don’t have anybody else, whether I could work with Dirk, whether that’d be problematic, what the others girls might say about it. Barbara said she will talk to them, not a problem, or I should talk to them. That’s what’s really great about the Fed Cup team, we are totally open with each other. I don’t know what they think to themselves (laughs), but everybody just said “Yeah, no problem at all.” And that was a big help for me, that he was in Doha with me, now that I’m lost.

The Fed Cup semifinal will be played in Sochi on clay. How do you like that?

I spoke with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday and she had already implied that it was going to be Sochi. I was really surprised, I was completely sure that we will play in Moscow. I don’t know why. I didn’t even think about other cities because I was so sure “Moscow, where else would they play?”. It’s a bit unfortunate for us because it’s another two hours further away and [the WTA tournament in] Stuttgart is right after it. But we are going to do it, no doubt. And luckily – that really relieves me – it is on clay, so we don’t have such a big change in Stuttgart. We’re gonna manage. It’s better than Australia. We’re slowly getting closer. (laughs)

There have been increased demands for a reform of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup. You can see with the men that barely any of the big stars are playing. Would you welcome change?

In general I always thought the format was ok. But I always though: Eight teams in the world group (in Fed Cup) is very small. We were in the final last year – and if we had lost to Australia we would playing to avoid relegation. That’s a little crazy. But what I also noticed because we were in the final for the first time: It’s really, really close to next year’s first round. And I had the feeling that we hadn’t processed the final yet. When I went out on the court and heard the national anthem last year’s final came back into my head. And yet we were back [on court] and had to fight for survival, to not be relegated. Barbara once said that she would like a world group with 14 teams and last year’s finalists get a first round BYE. I don’t know if that can be done, but I think that would be perfect and it sounded really, really reasonable when Barbara said it.

Without a doubt you are one of the more popular players on tour. It seems like almost all players like you and you seem to get along with almost everybody, too. Do you sometimes feel like the Roger Federer of women’s tennis?

Oh God, that’d be nice if I had half – no not even half, just one fifth of his successes! (laughs) I’d sign that in a heartbeat. But seriously: I have always been very uncomplicated. I grew up in a big family, always had many people, many children around me. I might have only one sister, but we are eight cousins. It was always obvious that we shared, that we try to achieve things together. And because of that I believe that, first of all, I really enojoy these team events. And second of all I don’t see a reason why, just because I want to beat someone on court, I have to be mean to them off the court.

Something many women on the WTA tour handle differently.

Everybody has to decide that for herself. I can differentiate that very well. I can give it my all on the court and I don’t even look to ther other side of the court. I don’t care who I am playing. I just play for myself, I desperately want to win. Even if I played someone who I really like, I can differentiate that, no matter if I won or lost. I’m really blessed with being able to differentiate that so well. If you can’t do that and you notice “I’m more nervous when I’m playing a friend”, then maybe you shouldn’t have friends on tour. It’s a professional sport where you have to make decisions like that.

Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza have recently – and they were not the first ones – denounced the lack of collegiality on tour. It seems like most players do their own thing and that there is a certain amount of cat fighting. Does that bother you too?

I have to say that because I get along with all of them pretty well – with Azarenka especially for example, we are very friendly with each other and chat during breakfast or whereever – I think that doesn’t affect me as much as it does others. I chat with everybody, with some I’m closer, with others not so close, but I’m ok with everybody, so it doesn’t concern me. Of course it’s a difficult sport. You have to be tough, you have to be able to take a lot on court, and that hardens you and makes you lonely. And I believe that goes hand in hand, because you then become harder and less sensitive yourself and try to seclude yourself. That affects the private life, too.

~

Translated by Katja

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