ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Former World No.9 Andrea Petkovic had a whirlwind start to her week at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, but is thoroughly enjoying her first visit to Russia's cultural capital, into the second round as a qualifier.
"I just came back from Australia on Wednesday, and I had to get a Russian visa from Germany," she explained before making the main draw. "I got it Friday at 1PM, and didn't arrive to St. Petersburg before 11PM last night. I couldn't practice here, so everything was a little fast."
The German hasn't dropped a set through four matches, all without new coach Sasha Nensel, who was held up due to visa issues. Traveling with her mother, Petkovic is instead drawing inspiration from seeing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reach the semifinals of the Australian Open; the pair played doubles in Melbourne, reaching the semifinals.
"I feel like I still have so much more in me, and I think it was important for me to make a new commitment with a new coach to show I still want it. He's really hard on me, and I haven't had this before, so it's a new thing for me. I like it so far, and we'll see where it takes me."
The 29-year-old has used the surge of veteran success as primary motivation of late, crediting another doubles partner, good friend and former World No.1 Angelique Kerber as the first to reignite her passion for the game.
"I didn't know where my place was, but I kept going half-heartedly," she said of an emotional end to her 2015 season. "When Angie won the Australian Open and started playing so well, I saw what an achievement it was and how happy it made her.
"It's a different story from when you see Serena winning Slams, because she's so far away from me. But Angie and I are good friends; we played doubles so many times, and it made me think about how if she can do it, I can do it."
There would be no better place for Petkovic to start doing it than St. Petersburg, a city that played a prominent part of her childhood.
"One of my favorite authors is Dostoyevsky. I feel like I know the city very well; I've just never been here before. When we arrived, my mother saw the river and said, 'Look at the water, what kind of river is it?' I answered, 'That's the Neva,' and she was like, 'How do you know that?' I said, 'I read it, I know it!'
"It's difficult because I came so late and I have to play, but I really hope that I can catch a day or afternoon to see the Hermitage. One day, when I'm done with tennis, I want to come back here as a tourist because this is one of the cities I've always wanted to visit. I have a picture of it in my mind, because I've never actually seen it!"
Her love for Dostoyevsky runs deep, citing Rodion Raskolnikov - the protagonist to Crime and Punishment - as her "first crush."
"I always struggle because I really like The Brothers Karamazov but the first book I read of his was Crime and Punishment; I read it several times. I think I like Brothers Karamazov more."
"Their dancing was so professional. I used to do a few dance moves but they had a choreographer! They were so in sync that I'd be a little afraid to be in competition with them."
Regardless of choreography, Petkovic undoubtedly appears in rhythm ahead of her next match against No.6 seed, defending champion Roberta Vinci.
? WTA (@WTA) January 31, 2017
All photos courtesy of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2017