Being a pro is tough. German Andrea Petkovic had a promising career in front of her when devastating injuries hobbled her again and again. Still she fought back and climbed in the rankings and got up to No. 9. But this year has been tough. She’s only scored more than two wins at one tournament (Doha), her ranking has fallen to No. 43, and today she was dismissed by the young Swiss Belinda Bencic, 6-3, 6-2.
Still the thoughtful German was upbeat.
“I was there. It’s really the story of the season for me…I lose focus for four or five minutes. I was really close. [But then] I start to play more hectically and go for shots that aren’t sensible…
It’s been a difficult process, but I’m glad that I can still view it as a process. I stepped ahead, but that’s not the step that I need. There’s a bigger step in front of me…Mentally, I’m much more calm…[When] I lost this year I was calm and didn’t panic. It was just that the decisions I made were wrong [like] going down the line too early, going for too little, going for too much. I just haven’t found the balance.
“With Angie [Kerber], who has been so confident, she always makes the right decision. It’s not like she’s been a whole different player this season than last. She just makes the right decisions.
It’s a snowball effect. You can’t really control it…It’s ten decisions [a season], but if you put it down to what it is, it’s maybe just that one decision in that one match that gets you the win. That just changes the whole nine or ten decisions that come after it. Sport is so interesting and philosophical.”
Petkovic continued by saying that the mental side of tennis is what she loves most about the sport.
“It’s very challenging. It’s a matter of controlling your emotions. It’s a matter of facing adversity and in really small periods of times making decisions…The decisions can make a whole different outcome when you look back at the end of the season. What I just need in life is something that challenges me and tennis has been the most challenging thing because I can’t just work through it by reason, I need other things. I need trust…[and] things that are beyond reason. That’s when you play best, when you don’t think and you just play. That’s been the thing that’s very tough for me. That’s the challenging part and I enjoy it.”
Inside Tennis then asked Petkovic, “Does it ever strike you that tennis is a simple rectangle with a net, but it’s such a moveable feast of problems and challenges?”
Andrea replied, “Especially at the beginning of the year…I sort of fell into panics when it was close…I was scared of losing. That held me back. I could feel my muscles tighten up – being stiff and moving in slow motion. I worked through this with mental work and meditations. Now I’m fine with my emotions…[But] I over-think. I want to do the right thing, instead of going with what I feel. That’s the next step.
“[As for my meditations] it’s just mindfulness and sitting in silence, which is already tough for me because there are no silent moments in my life, which is kind of exciting also. [Laughs] There are a few people inside talking to me. [So I’m] just trying to streamline my thoughts and stay more with myself. I have more trust in myself and that’s been something that has helped me through the tough losses…[which have] probably been the longest I’ve had in my career.”
Petkovic is a reflective feminist who’s interested in politics, so we pivoted and asked whether Hilary Clinton getting elected would be a big deal internationally or not.
“In Germany,” she replied, “It really isn’t that big a deal. We’ve had a great chancellor, Angela Merkel, for a long time, and we’re all very satisfied with her. We feel we’re in very good hands. It’s not huge thing for us, but then again America has always been country that is leading, and it has been an idol for other countries, so having a woman president would be very special.