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Petkovic Pulls the Plug on Wozniacki at the Sony Ericsson Open

The first time Andrea Petkovic battled a world number one it was in Rome in 2010. On that occasion, the German came out on the losing end. This time around, the 23 year old also ranked 23rd was not intimidated by her opponent’s ranking. Petkovic stunned Caroline Wozniacki to clinch her first quarterfinal berth at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Wozniacki’s intent was to advance to her third straight quarterfinal at this tournament. Also, the Dane was trying to become the third player to win back to back titles in Indian Wells and Miami; an accomplishment posted only by Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters.

The first set could have been decided by the flip of a coin. However, it was Petkovic breaking for a 6-5 advantage and on her second set point producing the ace to wrap it up.

In the second set, Wozniacki capitalized on triple break point when Petkovic dumped a forehand into the net and moved in front 2-0.

Yet, when Wozniacki double faulted, Petkovic obtained triple break point. Despite getting to deuce, Wozniacki gave the German one more chance which she seized. Petkovic eventually consolidated for 2 all after wiping out triple break point.

Later on, with a backhand volley, Wozniacki arrived at double break point. She converted for 5-3 and with a love game sealed the second set.

In the deciding set, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Petkovic had break point. The German captured the game for a 2-0 lead. However, Wozniacki with a forehand volley winner promptly broke back.

Throughout the match, Wozniacki was having trouble with her forehand which proved her undoing. When another forehand went astray on break point, Petkovic banked the break for a 4-2 advantage.

Once she consolidated for 5-3, at triple match point Petkovic struck an ace to put a period on the victory.

Customarily, Wozniacki is solid from both wings. Today, the Dane had 14 winners and 52 errors, the forehand in particular was nonexistent. asked Wozniacki what went wrong: “Nothing was going on with my forehand. Nothing was going on with my backhand. She played a good match. I had so many chances in the first set. I had set points and I didn’t take them. Then my energy level dropped a little bit and I lost the match. That’s what happens in sports”.

When asked whether fatigue contributed to her downfall today, Wozniacki replied: “I have been playing a lot of matches, but I have been doing well. Today, I made the wrong decisions at the important moments”.

Petkovic was pleased with the way she handled herself on court. The German was focused and came out with a well thought out strategy against her opponent “I played well. . . I was able to stick to my game plan even after losing the second set where I lost my concentration for two games. I think this was the key to the match. . . I was able to step it up in the third set, and I’m really happy with the way I played”.

In terms what the “game plan” was, Petkovic cited “ most of the players think they can overpower Caroline. I think that’s the wrong approach because that’s where she’s most comfortable, she can run and bring the most balls back. . . The balls are not slow and short, they are quite deep, so you cannot really attack them. I tried to mix it up and when I had the short ball to go for it. Because if you try to hit every single shot with power, she just gets more comfortable and eventually you will miss”.

Although Petkovic was born in Bosnia, her family emigrated to Germany when she was a toddler. As such, wanted to know whether Steffi Graf was an inspiration: “she’s definitely my idol. But the funny thing is I have learned to appreciate her more now because I was still quite young when she was playing. When you’re young you see a player, you don’t really understand what makes them so good ”.

Petkovic explained “ I spent a lot of time watching tennis on YouTube especially [her] old matches . . . learning from the best. . . I had the honor of practicing with Steffi before Indian Wells, she’s still amazing. She’s still hitting the ball so well. I’m sure she could still be top 20 if she wasn’t getting injured so easily now. A huge experience playing with her, getting to meet her and to see what a wonderful person she is. So she’s definitely my idol. But to be honest, Serena Williams was always my idol”.

When asked why Serena, Petkovic claimed “I really relate to her with her fighting spirit on court. She impresses me so much with the way she turns matches around even when everything is lost. She was the first player to really touch me emotionally on the court”.

Petkovic is a great talent, but the mental aspect of the game is so crucial, inquired whether this was the department where she’s had the greatest growth “Definitely. I was always mentally tough in the juniors. . . I love the close moments . . . the challenges when it’s four all in the third. Even if I sometimes lose, afterwards I always feel the most alive in those moments”.

Furthermore, Petkovic expressed that “ it was a long experience for me, playing against the top players, learning what to do at key moments because sometimes I would just rush. . . So that was definitely a part of growing up and getting the experience playing on the big stages, playing the top players. I feel that I have come a long way from when I started on the WTA Tour”.

Jelena Jankovic, the world number seven, destroyed Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-1,6-3 to reach the quarterfinals where she will clash with Petkovic. For Jankovic and Petkovic, it will be their first tour meeting.

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