Petkovic & The Perils Of Qualies
Published August 16, 2013 12:01
CINCINNATI, USA - The public persona presented by Andrea Petkovic is not that of a worrier. A Joker, hipster, even philosopher, but not a worrier.
Yet there is one subject that is likely to jolt the German out of her famously laid-back stride: qualifying.
A few years ago, qualifying was not an issue that concerned Petkovic. Sitting pretty in the Top 10, she had begun to consider her spot at tennis' flagship events as a given. Then disaster struck.
A horrible run of injuries, starting with a spinal stress fracture at the start of 2012, precipitated a tumble down the rankings. Eventually she bottomed out at No.192, before starting the slow journey back to the top.
Her status as a former World No.9 brought with it the odd wildcard, but for the most part, Petkovic climbed back up the hard way, playing qualifiers, lower-level WTA events and on the ITF Circuit.
After failing in Indian Wells, Madrid and the French Open, on Sunday Petkovic finally succeeded in qualifying, defeating Karolina Pliskova to reach the main draw in Cincinnati. And with her ranking now inside the Top 50 - and with relatively few points to defend between now and the year's end - it may be the last time for a while her name is accompanied by a 'Q' on the draw sheet.
"I get so stressed in qualifying because I feel like I have to qualify," Petkovic said in an interview with SI.com after defeating Karolina Pliskova in the final round of qualifying. "I'm quite self-confident, but being in qualifying makes me insecure, like I'm not appreciated like a whole player.
"Ivo Karlovic told me the same thing. He played qualifying at a tournament after his injuries. They asked him, 'Are you a player or a qualifier?' It's just these little things that make you feel really bad."
Successfully negotiating the qualification gauntlet also has a few practical implications that have played on the 25-year-old's mind.
"It's so stupid, but if you win, you get 10 days free in a hotel, you get a car," she said. "For me, I can pay it, but it makes a huge difference having 10 nights paid because I have my physiotherapist with me, I have my coach with me, and I have to pay their rooms.
"And we get a car. In Mason, Ohio, you have to have a car!"
Petkovic, however, is not the only player struggling with the stresses of qualifying. "I get so stressed every time and I know it and I cannot help it," Petkovic added.
"But I was happy when I talked to Laura Robson and she told me she felt the same way in qualifying. So I think it's that way for a lot of players, especially if you're used to being in the main draw and then you have to qualify. You're stressing out so much."