STUTTGART, Germany - Andrea Petkovic is set to face-off against her good friend Angelique Kerber in the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Thursday. Petkovic sealed her spot after defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round on Tuesday.
Petkovic admitted it is a tough match-up whenever she plays Kerber, a frequent practice partner when they were younger, and a player Petkovic has always known was better than even Kerber herself might have believed.
"I always knew she’s going to win Wimbledon," Petkovic told reporters after her first-round win. "I knew, I was 100% sure, and when she won it last year I called her and I said to her ‘it’s weird, I thought Wimbledon was going to be your first one.’ That’s the only thing that I was 100% about if she got it together. Then I saw her play semi-finals at the US Open. I think by the way, if she had believed back then that she can win a major she would have already won that US Open because that is how well she was playing, but I think she didn’t believe it yet.
"Everything else, was I surprised? I wasn’t really, no. I wouldn’t have called it but I wasn’t that surprised, no. I called her winning Australian Open when she won Australia, not before the tournament obviously but when she was in the final against Serena I had a strange feeling. I just felt it was her time.
"The only thing that I think that I wouldn’t have called was the US Open. I thought Pliskova is going to win that one and she was up I think in the third set. But everything else, yes, I wasn’t surprised."
Petkovic and Kerber have met 11 times, with Kerber winning 8 to Petkovic's 3. Petkovic says her game feeds right into Kerber's strength and that Kerber forces her to play out of her comfort zone.
"I play pretty flat and quick and she doesn’t like to generate tempo by herself, she just likes to take your tempo and redirect the ball really well and she does that tremendously well," Petkovic said. "I don’t have a huge serve, like for example Pliskova, or something who can make right away a big difference on the first shot.
"So, we get into exchanges and I feel like I’m dominating the game and then all of a sudden there is a down the line winner and I’m like, I just want to punch her," Petkovic said laughing. "That would probably be my biggest chance [against her], but then I really like her so I can’t do that either.
"So, I just yell at her when we have dinner afterwards. That was the usual game plan in the last past years. But hopefully now I’ll get her to yell at me at dinner. That’s the game plan."
In the meantime, Petkovic said she plans to begin the trash-talking via text message.
"That’s what I like about Angie because I think people who don’t know her think she’s this really serious German, but I know the really not serious Polish in her," Petkovic said, laughing.
"She has a tremendous sense of humor and that’s what I really like about her. You can totally taunt her and she would never get angry. Actually, she would give it back. She would probably just send me a screenshot of the head-to-head and be like ‘please be quiet Andrea.’
"She has a great sense of humor. I just think the way she expresses herself in front of press, she just like to keep things to herself. But I think her personality is much more than what you only see of her.
"I shouldn’t talk her too much up, I do have to play her in two days."
Driving in her point about the Angie Kerber she knows, Petkovic offered up this anecdote from Germany's Fed Cup weekend:
"After we won, the team manager of Latvia came in and brought in a huge magnum champagne bottle and me and Dirk Dier, he’s our assistant coach, we looked at each other and went ‘oh my god’, and in comes our PR girl and she’s like ‘Andrea, Jens and Anna you have to go to the press conference.’
"I’m like, oh my god, I’m going to sit in press for 30 minutes while everyone else drinks the champagne bottle and I’m just stuck in press and Jens talks three hours, takes like 25 minutes for every question.
"I come back and everyone is sitting, looking into their phone and the bottle of champagne is unopened in the middle of the table.
"If Angie was there this would have not happened. That’s all I’m going to say," Petkovic grinned. "That is all I’m going to say."