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.

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Translated by Katja

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Andrea Petkovic on her Doha quarter-final loss

Original source: http://tennisnet.com/de/damen/wta/4672946/WTA-Doha_Rucken-macht-Strich-durch-die-Rechnung-Andrea-Petkovic

The back put a spanner in the works – Andrea Petkovic loses in the quarterfinals

A clearly hampered Andrea Petkovic missed reaching the semifinals at the WTA Premier tournament in Doha.

“I think she’s an incredibly good player, she’s been in the Top 20 for 2 years now, at least makes the quarterfinals at every tournament. We’ll see how well I can recover, because that was another quite long match and I’m really feeling the last matches in my bones.”  That’s what Andrea Petkovic had said to tennisnet.com after her second round win at the WTA Premier tournament in Doha about her next opponent, Lucie Safarova.

And her worries have materialized: In the quarterfinal against the World No.15 from the Czech Republic, the body of the German No.1 didn’t play along anymore.

Because of her many matches at the Fed Cup against Australia and during her tournament win in Antwerp, her back had acted up, and that only increased on Thursday: The World No.10 lost, clearly hampered, in straight sets, 2-6 1-6, and therefore couldn’t continue to use her good draw in Doha. Safarova will now meet her ranking neighbour Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard, currently the World No.14, beat the No.1 seeded Czech Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-0 6-3. The other semifinal will be contended by Venus Williams, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 1-6 6-3, and two-time Doha champion Victoria Azarenka, who thoroughly defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-1.

“Certainly not from me! I would have to fly against the wall with my head [for that to happen]. As long as I can stand on two legs I’ll play!” Petkovic had laughingly proclaimed to tennisnet.com the day before when asked whether there could be a walkover or a retirement.

And there wasn’t one indeed, but the Darmstadt native afterwards couldn’t hide that she wasn’t fully fit. “I injured my back a little bit” – which, as reported, had been giving her trouble before, but this time the trouble was much more severe. “At the start of the match, I think at 2-1 in the first set, I ran to a corner [of the court] and then my back just gave in”. But she didn’t want to use it as an excuse: “I have to say that she played great,” she praised her conqueror, despite the disappointment.

Andrea Petković on THAT call

Andrea Petković: “I still can’t believe it”

From an article on Tennis Net by Jörg Allmeroth.

On Thursday morning, Andrea Petković was one of the first athletes down to the gym at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai.  The Top-10 player from Darmstadt has slowly been getting over her unfortunate loss to the Kazakh Zarina Diyas and is now preparing for the tournament in Doha, the WTA’s second stop in the Persian Gulf.

“I want to stick with it and defend my position at the top [of the rankings] and, if possible, improve it,” Petković told tennisnet.com.  In Doha, she’ll again be coached by Dirk Dier.  Whether the cooperation between Petković and Dier will continue beyond the current tournaments is still uncertain, but a possibility.

“First of all, I’m incredibly proud that I’m back in the world’s elite,” Petković said. “It was a long, difficult, incredibly bumpy road with many setbacks.  But I never, never, never let it get me down.”  Petković has suffered several severe injuries in the past years, but returned to the top ten with her victory in Antwerp.  Angelique Kerber, Petković’s closest friend on tour, lost her Top-10 position.

Meanwhile, Petković’s exit in Dubai has sparked much discussion on social networks, particularly her reaction to a blatantly bad call during her loss to Diyas.

“It’s going viral,” the Darmstadt native said with a self-deprecating smile, referring to her outburst on Court 1.  She even fell to her knees, begging the umpire to take back the call—in vain. “I still can’t believe that that call went against me,” the Fed Cup player said.  “It would be better if the best umpires were used on the outer courts, where there is no Hawk-Eye.  Then maybe stuff like this wouldn’t happen. But it’s part of the game to accept mistakes like these, even if it’s difficult.”

Petković looked back happily to her victorious tournament in Antwerp.  The cancelled final offered her the opportunity to play an exhibition match against former Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters.  “She’s still in damn good shape,” Petković said.  “It was a ton of fun to play against her.”

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Translated by Katja.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you would like to contribute a translation, please head to About Us to see how to do so.

Interview with Andrea Petković before Fed Cup

From an article by Michael Eder published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Three first-round losses  the year didn’t start well for you. What did you bring with you from Australia; what did you learn?

A lot.  Australia’s the start of the season—you come out of the off-season and I knew I had done everything perfectly: my nutrition was perfect, went to bed on time, put my whole life behind tennis, behind the training.  That approach I brought with me to Australia and continued there.  In the end, I was in the tunnel for seven weeks and in hindsight I believe that was just too much— you’re empty, you can’t focus anymore.  I have to learn to be more relaxed.

Is it a mistaken impression or have you taken the losses in stride?

In Melbourne, yes.  The singles in Brisbane as well, but then we lost first round in doubles and then—my brain is a weird thing—it started three days later that I questioned my singles match.  Then the doubts started: was it really a good match?  Should I have done something differently during preparation?

Switching off your brain, that doesn’t work?

Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not.  Then I start reflecting on everything and can’t get myself out of it.

The pressure from inside is more difficult to control than the pressure from the outside?

Yes, with outside pressure I don’t have any problems.  During Fed Cup last year, for example, we had unbelievable pressure because we knew we’d flown to Australia for this and could throw three weeks of our clay season in Europe into the trash.  It was obvious: we have to win this, we have to make the final; only then is it a big thing at home—otherwise nobody will care and we wasted three weeks for nothing.  But we were able to handle this pressure; we could use it for better attention, for the necessary focus.  On the other hand, when the internal pressure becomes too strong, when I say: “I want, I want, I want,” then I usually fail.

On the one side a free thinker, on the other side a workaholic — how does that fit?

It doesn’t at all.  That’s my biggest problem: I have a torn soul that I can’t combine. The literature I read, the art I’m interested in—all that is very liberal.  I love the abstract and modern arts; I like artists who break rules.  But then I also have this disciplined animal inside of me that has to press everything into a mold, that doesn’t look to the left or to the right.  Not being able to combine these two sides—that’s the central theme of my life that disunites me.

But you’ve pulled back on the intensity of your training.

Yes.  When it comes to physical training, I have indeed learned.  I’ve reduced it significantly, but I always find a new field to act out my discipline: nutrition, for example.  I didn’t take it to the extreme regularly; but four, five days before a tournament, I did.  In hindsight, those were indications before Australia that I was trying to do it too perfectly again.

The triathlete and Hawaii [Ironman] winner Sebastian Kienle recommends to only subordinate 95% of your life to the reign of the sport, and the training, and to reserve the rest for a relaxed attitude.  Only this way can you be successful in the long-term and not destroy yourself.

In triathlon, your performance is even more measurable than in tennis; and if someone like Sebastian says that and wins Hawaii with this attitude, then you can see how much even pure physical power depends on the mind.  That an Ironman winner says it helps him to be more relaxed and more successful if he shoves a chocolate bar into himself and weighs maybe 500 grams more than necessary, I think that’s very interesting.

If you completely subordinate yourself to the sport — what’s left for real life?

For me sometimes there’s the additional feeling that I lost two years because of my injuries and that I don’t have that much time left for my tennis career—that I have to do everything 100% now and I can do all the other stuff afterwards.  But that’s exactly how it doesn’t work.  I won’t be able to switch my mind on the last day of my career.  Subordinating everything for a goal now and then enjoying everything afterwards, that won’t work.  It’s a very important lesson for me that I now try to enjoy everything, every training, that I try to enjoy the little things, that I take some time off, go to the theater, to the museum—and then not think “Oh god, I won’t have eight hours of sleep but only seven and a half.”

Airports, hotels, tournaments, matches — is world-class tennis a bit of its own world?

That’s true for many fields, sports, acting, art—you have to pull yourself out of this world from time to time.  The same hotels, the same courts, the same people, the same journalists.  Week in, week out, everybody thinks of himself as important, and they do all have important jobs in their fields; but looking at the big picture, we’re all not nearly as important as we think we are.

This weekend the German Fed Cup team will again play Australia in Stuttgart. What’s the attraction of this team competition?

It’s fascinating to see, as an individual athlete, what a team can do, what kind of energy you put out in a community.  And it’s a lot of fun to play for Germany as a national team.

The German [WTA players], with the exception of Angelique Kerber, sometimes play well, sometimes badly, sometimes more successful, sometimes less so— that’s true for Julia Görges, Sabine Lisicki, and for you as well.  What’s behind this lack of consistency?

Often it’s injuries after which you have to work to win again, to regain confidence.  When I was in the Top 10 and free of injuries, I won three or four matches at every tournament.  Then it goes automatically.  You can’t always explain confidence—sometimes it’s just there.  I believe that behind long-term success stands the absolute confidence that nothing will go wrong.  It’s naive, actually, but you need a certain naiveté in sports.  You have to believe, like a little child, that everything is going to be alright.

Where do you see the biggest potential in your development as an athlete?

Very clearly: coaching.  In Australia, my father coached me; we’re looking for a new coach for me now.  It’s important to me that I find someone who fits me perfectly, on a personal level as well.  I want to respect someone professionally, but I also want to be challenged intellectually.  I’m not willing anymore to take just anyone; I have the luxury that my father, who is incredibly knowledgeable, has my back.  I understand that he doesn’t want to travel to all tournaments because he doesn’t want the whole family just orbiting around me and he doesn’t want to give up his job as a club coach as well—and I think it’s good this way.

What does a coach have to be able to do?

Tactics, technical training, know the other players—those are the basics.  The most important capability of a coach are personal skills: to grasp the player.  He has to recognize phases in which the player works against herself and he has to take charge in these kind of phases.  He has to be able to give you a good feeling when you’re losing it.

You’re studying politics and philosophy by correspondence. In this regard, why do we never hear anything of significance from tennis players when it comes to politics? Why don’t tennis players publicly come out against Pegida [an anti-immigrant movement in Germany that made headlines for a few weeks in late 2014]? Sport wants to be cosmopolitan, tolerant, international?

It’s true that we almost never answer political questions.  I believe the more professional a sport is organized, the less the players are saying.  We’re always indoctrinated: don’t say anything about political topics, don’t say anything about doping, all you can achieve with that is to put yourself offside.

Isn’t it cowardly to not use the big influence. . . you have as a top athlete in this direction?

Yes, it’s cowardly—and it’s also something else: it’s convenient.  There’s always pro and contra and that’s why for every political statement you’ll get trouble and reactions which you then have to engage.  And, for me, I don’t play well when I have trouble with someone.

You’re 27 now.  What’s still driving you in sports?  The craving for the big win?  To have a Grand Slam trophy in your living room?

Before I go to sleep, I see myself holding up slam trophies.  I don’t think there’s a Top 100 player who doesn’t have this goal or dream.

And what’s going to come after the career?

I don’t know yet.  I just know two things I’m afraid of.  The fear of myself, that I won’t be able to handle the insignificance once tennis is gone.  And the fear that one day I’ll have a job without challenges—and that I won’t care.

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Translated from German by Katja.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you would like to contribute a translation, please head to About Us to see how to do so.