By Ros Satar, in Eastbourne
- Victoria Azarenka’s withdrawal puts World No. 34 in the final seeded position for Wimbledon
- Following on from our Birmingham chat Petkovic talks to us about her last gasp Wimbledon seeding, the depth of the WTA and the Olympics
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With half of the quarter-finals still to be set after rain halted play in Wednesday, we trotted out to catch a little of Petkovic and Ekaterina Makarova in the second set, with the German having taken the first one.
In the middle of the second set the news started to filter through that the sixth seed Victora Azarenka was withdrawing with a knee injury that caused her to retire in the first round of the French Open, and pull out pre-Wimbledon warm-ups.
However, Eastbourne is a place that works well for Makarova, as she struck back to level the match, before flying through the decider.
With other players like Caroline Wozniacki returning from injury, former Eastbourne champion Elena Vesnina having a run of good form, there are a number of very solid players unseeded.
While there could be an advantage to a seeding (see our handy seeding guide HERE), Petkovic put a different spin on things.
“I already arranged myself with not being seeded and I kind of liked the idea of being an underdog for a change again and just kind of coming from behind and making a splash.
“I already imagined myself as the dark kind of princess (laughs). Well unfortunately/fortunately I am seeded, We will see, you never know.”
For all her kidding though, she gave an insight into why this is still special for her.
She continued: “I really have to say that Wimbledon grew in my heart with two things happened.
“After I was Top 10 and I was injured for almost two years and they were the only grand slam who gave me a wild-card. You know, I remember those kind of things. I’m old fashioned with this. I remember people that do me good, they stay in my heart forever.
“And the other thing, I did semis in doubles with Magda Rybarikova, and I’m in the last 8 club in Wimbledon. So… nobody would have thought but I am.
“I get an extra ticket and an extra accreditation, and I feel very important – that’s all I need in my life, to feel loved and important (laughs).”
Thankfully Petkovic has a quite pragmatic view of the whole hubbub that surrounds the draw and is not likely to fall into a rage if she finds out who she players in the later rounds.
“You remember as a child and you see something and you want to reach it and you run and you fall down and you cry and your mum has to help you and you’re bleeding from your nose – that was me – because you don’t focus on the next step that you have to take. And now we’re not children anymore we have to focus on the first step, right? (laughter).”
The Depth of the WTA
There is no doubt we are in a time of a lot of variety in the women’s game and Anastasija Sevastova told Giulo that it made the game more exciting.
Petkovic noted: “I also like it. I feel like if I compare it to the years before, it’s just more stressful because from the first round you are kind of stressed, and it takes a lot of energy, and that’s why I think also a lot of top players lose sometimes earlier, because it takes more energy in the first round.
“You can never just go in and think to yourself ‘I’m going to win the first one or two rounds even if I don’t play so well.’ Everybody knows and that creates stress and that creates pressure. Because you have to be on your best level at each moment, and I think that costs a lot of energy.
“Winning a Grand Slam is really something special now, and I think yeah. For me I love to see Angie [Kerber] win, I love to see Garbi [Muguruza] win. I like those moments but it’s always like this right?
“When Novak wins everything there are always people say’ oh it’s so boring, give me somebody else’ and when there is a chaos, it’s ‘ah there’s nobody leading, it’s chaos going on’, so you will always find something to complain about (laughs).”
But does she think that Serena Williams could still close out the year as the World No. 1 but without winning a single Slam this year?
“I would think that Serena will win one slam at least this year. I would put my money on the US Open.”
With Flavia Pennetta’s win at the end of last year, followed up by Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open, and now Garbiñe Muguruza, there is an intriguing balance between those players whose experience is now shining through, and those who have shown that start quality.
She explained: “So all these three players – if you look at it in perspective, it’s not a huge surprise, not like there is chaos in the WTA … and anybody… like if my mother picks up a racquet she can win.
“It’s like you have to build your reputation, you have to build your stature as a player over the years and you might win a Slam. It’s not earned in one week or two weeks of a slam. It’s earned over the years and the work you’ve put in and that’s something that’s nice to see with all these three recent Slam winners I would say.”
Her years of injury have perhaps dealt the cruellest blows in the last Olympic year, but this time Petkovic is Rio-bound.
She said, gleefully: “I’m very excited but it’s little bit like being excited before Christmas, when you’re a child. Because you don’t really know what to expect.
“I know only the things that I’ve watched on TV. I was injured last time [when] it was in London, which was a pity but yeah that’s how it is.
“I want to see the city, I also want to see how all this athletes thing works, and I want to see other competitions, but then it’s really squeezed in between all of our tournaments, so you kind of want to be ready.
“It’s a huge mess – a really really huge mess. I don’t really know what I’m excited about but I guess I’m excited. (Laughs)”
Then of course there is the potential hilarity of the doubles paring of Kerber and Petkovic – think flailing limbs and unlikely wins!
She leaned forward conspiratorially: “Me and Angie – the worst! And if you make your predictions on your sites, remember as a dark horse the worse doubles in the world, keep it in the back of your mind. I think you can actually write an essay on the worst doubles in the world. The development of the worst doubles in the world.”
The Championships take place between 27 June and 10 July.
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