Since Petko's known that she was going to play Caro she's been vocal about her intent to employ a new gameplan against her, one that other WTAers just don't seem to want to adopt: be patient, work the ball, use the angles, get Caro moving with well-placed shots, wait for the short ball, and terminate it. It sounds simple but for an aggressive player like Petko, it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to trust that gameplan and execute.
While she benefited from Caro's uncharacteristically flat play, (50 UFEs!!!!!!!!!!!!), I was convinced that she'd panic and abandon the gameplan after Caro took the second set. I have never been more happy to be wrong. Andrea kept her head, stayed focused, got the decisive break after losing a break advantage, and then served out the match with an ace. Quite the performance from the woman who used to be known for that epic 4MP collapse against Sveta at RG.
"Most of the players think they can overpower Caroline. I think that's the wrong approach, because that's where she's most comfortable, when she can run and bring the most balls back. Then once you lose your concentration for once on your shot, she goes for it. Some like to say that she's pushing, but it's not like the balls are slow and not short, you know. They are quite deep, so you cannot really attack them.
What I try to do is mix it up and to make her play, and then when I had the short ball to go for it. Because if you try to hit every single shot with full power, full power, she just gets more comfortable, more comfortable, and eventually you're gonna miss. She's not gonna miss the last one.
So this is what I tried to do, just be patient and wait for the short ball, and until then try to mix it up and also give her the initiative to try to play.
So there's the book on Caro. And it is dead-on. The question of course is whether it would work when Caro has her A-Game. Tough call. But Petko looked like a genius today.
As for Caro, she gave one of the more evasive, sarcastic pressers I've seen from her. On being asked about Petko's very public game plan:
"I lost a match. That happens. If she had a plan, good for her."
LOLOLOLOL. Love it.
On being asked what was going on with her forehand today:
"Nothing was going on with my forehand. Nothing was going on with my backhand. You know, I lost the match. She played a good match."
And on whether she was more emotional on court than normal:
"I don't know. I was playing a match. I wanted to win, and that's it."
I found the whole thing hilarious. Her energy reminded me of Moose's post-loss pressers. "I don't want to be here but I'll answer your stupid fucking question using minimum effort and I'm not going to give you shit."
As for Petko, she advances to take on JJ. Same game plan maybe? Tough call. I feel like you actually can hit through JJ and a conservative game plan won't work. She has more firepower with that backhand than Caro. But what do I know. I'm not the one who just snapped the World #1's 23-match win streak at Premier Mandatory events.
I think that stat is right. I don't have my abacus with me.
One piece of breaking news regarding the Petko Dance:
I wanted to get rid of it after the US Open, but the fans, they said like, Hey, we are just coming to see the dance and you're not doing anymore. So I brought it back in. But this is definitely the last tournament where it's gonna happen, and then I'm moving on to something else. (Laughter)
I'm a little sad, but it was a nice phase and it was nice fun, but now I'm getting a little tired of it. Time to move on.
So long as you keep winning, I don't think any of us mind, Andrea. But here's hoping we get to see the Petko Dance a few more times before the week is over.
(Pics: Forty Deuce)