Andrea Petkovic may no longer have to worry about making ends meet, but she is no stranger to the difficulties young players face in climbing the tennis ladder.
WTA Staff

The ability, or lack thereof, to make a living on the lower rungs of the circuit has been a hot topic in the tennis world lately, with all four Grand Slams responding by increasing their prize money.

While Andrea Petkovic no longer has to worry about making ends meet, she is no stranger to the difficulties facing those below her in the rankings, having once been in their shoes.

Petkovic, who did not establish herself in the Top 100 until her early 20s, spent her fair share of time frequenting tennis' backwaters, where every point - not to mention dollar, pound and euro - are fought for tooth and nail.

Fresh out of school and flying solo, times were tough for the teenage Petkovic. "In the beginning, the thing was that I used to travel all alone, which was kind of difficult times for me, but also, it made me who I am now as a tennis player, because I couldn't afford bringing a coach or somebody with me," Petkovic said

"I have a little sister, so my parents also had to take care of her. That was a good lesson in life, being in all these little villages playing the 10, 25 and 50,000 tournaments."

However, the German survived the sport's baptism of fire and is stronger for the experience.

"As I said, it just made me who I am. It made me tougher. I think it made me independent. It is definitely a financial challenge for each and every player. Any player who is in a Federation that is able to help is very lucky."

Ever the raconteur, Petkovic has a few tales from her time climbing the ladder. And while the journey may have benefitted her in the long run, it did not always feel that way at the time.

"Once when I played in England, the hotels were so expensive and I had just finished school and I stayed at a hostel and next to me were 25 boys celebrating something. I don't know what," she recalled. "They kept singing English songs for the whole night, and I had to play next day at 10 in the morning.

"Well, I lost! That's the end of that story. But there were others - crazy stories. I can't think of them now, but there are so many."

Petkovic's story, which has had more than its fair share of twists, looks like it will have a happy ending.

"I would definitely say my story is a positive story, but it's also a story that showed me what I need to work on. I think it's a story that it's not the end but the beginning of something really, really beautiful hopefully."

For all her successes, life as a tennis player has been a hard slog at times for the 26-year-old, as two serious injuries precipitated a fall from the heady heights of No.9 in the rankings all the way down to the darkest depths of the Top 200.

Petkovic endured several difficult moments during her journey back up the rankings, too, and on the back of one particularly dispiriting run of results even contemplated packing it all in. Now healthy again, in 2014 Petkovic has been bounding up the rankings thanks to tournament victories in Charleston and Bad Gastein and a semifinal appearance at the French Open.

"I think I gained a lot of belief in myself as a player again and the stages where I can get to. Because I got to the semifinals in Paris, but I didn't play my best tennis and I still got there.

"And I'm also nowhere near the end with my game. I have still so many things to improve. So there is a long way for me to go. I have a good five or six years that I can keep improving. So I'm very positive about my career now."