By Tumaini Carayol
(April 23, 2013) STUTGART – Despite what the order of play suggested, Monday evening marked the true beginning of the Porsche Grand Prix. As Andrea Petkovic and Ana Ivanovic marched the court, it was the first time the spectators filled the stadium to the absolute brim. The first time the sharp intake of one person’s breath was simultaneously mirrored by the rest of the grand stadium. And the first time that even the quietest mutter was met with a flurry of angry shushing noises.
It was understandably a highly-anticipated affair. On one side stood Andrea Petkovic who, despite her current ranking, has charmed the German crowds beyond repute since she rose to prominence during 2010 and 2011. Accompanying her was her Serbian friend who herself had enamored the entire tennis world and beyond five nostalgic springs ago.
Still, the result was never in doubt. In spite of a two-game interlude which saw Petkovic immediately seize a break to lead 2-1, suffocating the Ivanovic backhand with uncompromising depth before knelling the finishing blow off both sides, any positive play from Petkovic was merely a footnote in a match that was closer epitomized by the four errors in succession committed by the German from the very first point.
A smiling but disappointed Petkovic was quick to agree.
“I got a little overexcited and I was too aggressive,” she said. “I was going for the lines and I was missing everything a little. I didn’t really build up the points and Ana was consistent.”
Ivanovic once again dealt with her opponent superbly. In addition to serving at 73% and shutting the door on every possible entry back into the match for Petkovic, she was acutely aware of Petkovic’s struggles on high forehand and adjusted by ensuring that, whenever on the defensive, she simply looped the ball up to the German’s forehand and awaited the almost inevitable error.
The most noteworthy moment came at 6-3 4-1 to Ivanovic as Petkovic attempted to throw a spanner into the works with a successful net foray followed by an exquisite dropshot to force 15-30 on the Ivanovic serve. Two well-placed service winners and an ace later, Ivanovic had confidently held for 5-1, uncharacteristically dousing out the remaining fire in Petkovic with minimum hassle. That was to be Petkovic’s final stand. Five minutes afterwards, Ivanovic had closed her friend out and moved seamlessly into the second round.
For Petkovic, the loss brought immense frustration, but even in defeat she was still able to showcase her trademark sense of humor.
“I’m hopeful that everything will come together in the future and I’ll be as good as I was before. And if not, I’m going to shoot myself..I’m joking!”
Tumaini Carayol is in Stuttgart covering the Stuttgart tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.