Yo. Adidas. Can she have her own "All Petko" shirt now? I think she's fucking earned it.
How many times have we been left with head in hands as a player pulls off a career performance one day only to turn around the next and barely look like a person worthy of the court? It happens all the time, whether it's our favorite players or the players that beat our favorite players, only to stink up the joint the next round. You hear it all the time from the women of the WTA: Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Some argue that's because of parity, some argue inconsistency. But anyone who follows the tour knows it's true. It happens all the time.
So I think as tennis fans we are savvy enough to know that one win does not a career make. One win does not transform you into a player to be reckoned with. One win can easily be shrugged off as a mere blip, excused as an outlier. But string some quality wins together? That's a signal. Do it at a high-level tournament? Air-horn. And do it with solid performances over the course of a two-week tournament? Ticker tape parade. Even the ignorant jerks who try to pretend that women's tennis isn't a thing have to put down their Playboys and go "Hmmmm."
Petko's having one of those runs. Sure, her big personality is making a splash here in Miami and she's charming the pants off the local media who clearly have no idea that she's, you know, a thing. Her first press conference was attended by me and a writer for the tournament website. Now they're events. I mean, talk about your favorite indie band blowing up overnight. It's like Death Cab before they were on The OC. All of a sudden people who know shit about shit are acting like they discovered something new. "Wow. That Ben Gibbard is talented. He can really craft a song." NO SHIT, SHERLOCK! WE'VE KNOWN THAT FOR YEARS!
Imagine my eye-rolling when the first question posed to Petko after her win over Caro was, "So, do you have a name for that dance?" Come on, homie. You had 45 minutes to get ready for this presser. Google is your friend.
You can understand why she's ready to retire it.
But enough of my ranting. Back to the tennis.
A day after ousting Caro in three sets, Petko backed up her win with a three-set tussle with JJ that saw more ups and downs than something other than a rollercoaster because that rollercoaster analogy is trite. JJ came out firing in the first set and wasn't giving Petko much of a chance to do anything. Then the rain came at 5-2, the players were called off the court, and Petko harnessed her chi:
"I started off very slow, especially my feet were not moving well. I was always one step late, I had the feeling. I also had the feeling that Jelena was playing really, really great in the beginning and she didn't really give me the chance to play my best. So I think the rain delay slowed her down a little bit and gave me also the moments and the time to calm down a little bit because I was also getting emotional and frustrated with myself.
[My coach] just told me to remain calm, that she was playing really great, and if she plays a whole match like this then you can just say 'Okay, very well played.' So that calmed me down a little bit because I felt like, okay, I'm playing bad, but I didn't really acknowledge the fact that she was playing great. That really calmed me down to know that, Okay, if she really plays that well I'm just going to shake her hand and say, Hey, well played today."
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of the post-chi-harnessing play. I was over on Court 2 watching Ana and Kim. But it sounds like Petko upped her level, JJ dropped hers and it was all to play for in the third, which saw JJ get an early break at 4-2 before Petko was able to fight to reel off the next four games, fighting off multiple break points at 4-4 to hold, and then breaking JJ in a nine-deuce game for the match.
The theme of the day seemed to be fitness. A bit more on that later. But physically, Petko's a beast, and her fitness level drives her confidence:
"Physically I'm, I think, one of the most prepared girls in the tour. My coach actually said to me when he came on the changeover, I said, Man, I'm dying. He said, Okay, imagine you are dying, how is she feeling? I was like, Okay, she's dead already."
This is why you hit the gym, ladies. There are enough things to be worried about on the court. Freaking out because you're not sure you can last very long doesn't need to be one of them.
As for your Daily Petko Quippy-Quips:
"I have a very good coach who's gonna bring me all the food I need. I'm going to go to a steakhouse, eat eight steaks, and I'm gonna be fine."
"I like it much more to play doubles with a friend, with a good friend, instead of practicing with your coach who bores me after a while. (Laughter.)"
"I believe in myself. But unfortunate in tennis, it's not only about you. There are also other players who have a word to say. But that's at least a step, the first step to believe in yourself and believe that you can win. I mean, I took out the world #1 and I took out the former world #1, so I think there is nothing that stands in the way. Just two more girls stand in the way. (Laughter.)"
"I'm doing intervals. So in the beginning I started with 30/30, and the closer it gets to the tennis I start to do it as related as possible to rallies. So 15 seconds, 15 seconds for my type of game is maybe the -- I think Karlovic does 2 seconds, 2 seconds. (Laughter.)
Eh. You're awesome. I gots no more to say.