By Sandra Harwitt
Have you seen the “Petko Dance?” I hope so, since it’s oh, so very sweet, and as it turns out, this is your last chance to see Andrea Petkovic do her victory boogie.
“It’s just a moment of happiness for me, and I think the fans enjoy it especially here in Miami,” said Petkovic, after prancing into the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinal with an upset of No. 6-seed Jelena Jankovic, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. “It was a spontaneous reaction, but everything comes to an end.This is the last tournament for the Petko Dance.”
If you haven’t seen it, Petkovic, quickly becoming a new personality on the WTA Tour, commemorates her wins with a little twist here, a little two-step there. And this tournament she’s had much to celebrate—Jankovic was not her only Top 10 victory. No, she orchestrated an even more stunning upset over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, in the fourth round.
Petkovic was born in Tuzla, Bosnia—that makes her of Serbian heritage—but moved to Germany when she was six months old. Her father, Zoran, attempted to play on the men’s tour, but it did not go as hoped so he started playing German leagues and coaching. Hence, the German citizenship.
You usually find most of the parents are thrilled, if not pushing, their offspring to play professionally around these parts. But not Petkovic’s father.
“I had a big fight with my dad because he didn’t want me to be a professional tennis player at that time when I was making the decisions if I should go to university or try to be a professional tennis player,” said Petkovic, 23. “And because my dad had already experienced this before and he didn’t really make it, I think he didn’t’ want his little daughter to go through the same things.
“But, yeah, I had the bigger head in this decision, and I’m quite happy that it ended this way.”
Petkovic is showing some serious form this season: finalist at Brisbane, quarterfinalist at the Australian Open and Paris Indoors. And now, she’s a semifinalist at Miami where she’ll play Maria Sharapova for a berth in the final. Sharapova will need a day of rest following a 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 outing against Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania that ended about 20 minutes after midnight.
Petkovic considers her fitness a cornerstone of her game and the reason she’s able to play an aggressive brand of tennis. At one point during the Jankovic joust, Petkovic’s coach, Petar Popovic, came onto the court for the very legal coaching chat on the changeover: “I said, Man, I’m dying. He said, ‘Okay, imagine you are dying, how is she feeling? I was like, ‘Okay, she’s dead already.”
That turned out to be true, at least in the match.
So now the question is, Will the ‘Petkovic Dance’ live to see another day?
“The first step is to believe in yourself and believe that you can win,” Petkovic said. “I mean, I took out the world No. 1 and I took out the former world No. 1 (Jankovic), so I think there is nothing that stands in the way. Just two more girls stand in the way.”
And, oh by the way, there might not be a future for her post-match victory jig, but don’t despair. Petkovic says, “It was a nice phase and it was nice fun, but now I’m getting a little tired of it. Time to move on.”