Getting To Know... Petra Cetkovska

After a bumpy couple of years, Petra Cetkovska is very much back in the swing of things. This week the 26-year-old made her Top 40 debut.

Published August 26, 2011 03:04

Getting To Know... Petra Cetkovska
Petra Cetkovska

NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - In 2008, Petra Cetkovska reached her first WTA quarterfinals at Fès and Birmingham, and made the fourth round at Roland Garros, a Grand Slam breakthrough. However, having cracked the Top 50, injuries and attendant motivational problems got in the way. After that fine run in Paris the Czech right-hander fell in the first round at the next five majors, and didn't even make the main draw at the seven Slams that followed.

But things were different at Wimbledon this year: as a qualifier, the 26-year-old beat Agnieszka Radwanska and Ana Ivanovic on her way to the last 16. Mixed in with strong results on the ITF Circuit, she went on to make her first WTA semi at International-level Palermo, and this week, following another defeat of Radwanska and a Top 10 win over Marion Bartoli, she is through to her first Premier semi at the New Haven Open at Yale. Next up: Li Na.

We caught up with Petra in New Haven, where she is playing on a new career high of No.40 - and set to go higher.

How did you get into tennis?
I started playing tennis when I was five. My dad took me along to the local club where I had group lessons and also one-on-one with him. I began playing local weekend competitions when I was six, ITF juniors at 14, and ITF events when I was 16. When I was young I also played basketball, I was swimming, I played ice hockey. But tennis won.

Tell us about your family.
My mother is Alena, she's a nurse, and my father, Petr, works in the pro shop at the tennis club. He's not a coach, although he did work with me. I have a younger brother, Matej, who's still at high school.

What's your coaching situation at the moment?
I've been working with Stéphane Charret since February last year. He's also the coach of Mathilde Johansson. We train together either at Roland Garros or at a sports complex owned by Lagardère. Changing my surroundings, finding this coach and a place to do my physical training, has really helped me to turn things around.

How do you describe your playing style?
My game is aggressive, with variety. My favorite shots are the forehand, and serve and volley. With Stéphane I've been working on all aspects of my game, but one key element is getting me to relax more during matches.

Do you have a favorite surface?
No, I like all surfaces.

What's your best tennis memory to date?
Reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon this year was great. I also remember the feeling when I won the 14/U European Championships! But every day is special, getting to enjoy playing tennis and travelling and making the most of this extraordinary opportunity.

Who do you admire in tennis?
Roger Federer. He's a great player and a good person.

You've lived in Paris for several years. How do you like it?
I still spend time in Prostejov in the Czech Republic, but I moved to Paris when I was 20. It's completely different - I grew up in a small city with 60,000 people. I enjoy it because there's always something to do.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don't have too much time - we seem to spend a lot of time in the car in Paris, driving to and from training! But I enjoy reading - I like Joy Fielding's thrillers - and spending time with my friends. I also love to cook, especially fish dishes and soup. I don't really have much time to dedicate to it, but I enjoy it when I do.

What are your goals in tennis now?
My goal is to finish the year in the Top 50, which I think is going to be possible. Otherwise just to work on myself and try to improve every day. If I do things right, the results will come.

Do you have any idea what you'd be doing, if not playing tennis?
No, none at all! I really enjoyed it from the beginning, and as I got older and started to understand more, I never really thought about doing anything else.

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