Andrea Petkovic revealed her exceptional napping skills helped her stay calm during the three-and-a-half-hour rain delay on Wednesday after which she stepped on court and defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-2 to make her first-ever Dubai quarter-final.
Last year, the German walked off Court 1 in a fit of rage having lost her opener to Zarina Diyas and risked getting defaulted for accidentally throwing her racquet at a line judge.
Wednesday, Petkovic walked off the neighbouring Court 3 with a big smile, signing autographs and celebrating a comfortable win against a tough opponent and former Dubai runner-up.
“I’m not a world champion in tennis yet, but I’m a world champion in taking naps. So if you tell me ‘Andrea take a nap now’, I’ll take a nap. It is a good skill and it helped me tremendously. Every time I knew it was going to take a while (for the rain to stop), I took a nap and got through the day,” Petkovic told Sport360 after her win.
“I felt I played really well. I saw that Jelena was a little tired so I really tried to stay in the rallies and make her run.”
Petkovic had never won back-to-back matches in Dubai prior to this week but she now has an interesting clash with Caroline Garcia who upset No. 3 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in an epic three-setter, that was halted by the rain when the Frenchwoman was serving for the match.
“I’ve always loved this tournament but I never did well here because I also liked the indoor tournaments in Europe so I preferred to stay there and came late here,” explained Petkovic. “But this year I wanted to do well here because I felt I had the game. So I came four or five days early this time and it really helps because the ball does fly and it is different to play here.
“God don’t remind me of last year, I already had it in the back of my mind. That was not my best moment I would say.”
Petkovic is 2-0 head-to-head against Garcia with their most recent meeting being a tight three-setter in the US Open first round.
“I’ve played her a couple of times, once on grass and at the US Open last year and it was a very close match, 7-5 in the third, and I think this court suits her as well so it’s going to be really tough,” said the 28-year-old.
“But I’m playing really well so I just have to focus on my game and then I will get my chances hopefully.”
Torrential rain and hail suspended play at the Aviation Club just as Caroline Garcia started serving for the match against Carla Suarez Navarro on centre court.
Suarez Navarro, the No3 seed in Dubai, went up a set over the 22-year-old Garcia and looked on her way to a straight-sets victory when she went up a break in the second.
But the French world No38 fought back from a break down twice in the second set to put Suarez Navarro in the position to serve to stay in the set.
The Spaniard saved two set points but faltered on the third, losing a backhand-to-backhand battle with Garcia, who forced a decider.
Garcia broke for 3-1 in the final set. Suarez Navarro saved four break points in a marathon sixth game and hung on for 4-2. Garcia started serving for the match at 5-3 before the thunderstorm halted play.
Over on Court 1, Barbora Strycova pulled off a comeback of her own, climbing back from a set and a break down to defeat 2012 runner-up Julia Goerges 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.
“Play is suspended due to rain. No matches will be played before 7pm,” said Donna Kelso, the WTA Supervisor on-site.
“The only match that has been cancelled is Errani/Suarez Navarro vs Xu/Zheng.”
It looks like 2016 is starting the same way 2015 ended, with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer squaring off on the biggest stages, their rivalry maintaining its position as the most thrilling in today’s game.
It’s a match-up millenials would refer to as ultimate popcorn-tennis. Both players are in ridiculous form and even though Djokovic had one off day in the fourth round, it must be said that his opponent, Gilles Simon, played a bigger role than many gave him credit for in forcing the world No. 1 to make errors and scrape through in five sets.
One theme prevalent in Federer’s matches this fortnight is efficiency. He has spent almost three and half hours less than Djokovic on court and has been going around his business with almost surgical precision. The world No. 3’s winner-unforced error differential from his first five matches is an impressive +58, while Djokovic’s is -5, although the Serb’s figure is greatly affected by the 100 errors he struck against Simon.
It’s interesting that of the 11 grand slam semi-final defeats Federer has suffered throughout his career, more than half of them (six) have come in Melbourne – two of which were at the hands of Djokovic. Meanwhile, Djokovic has won the Australian Open title every single time he has reached the semi-finals here. These could be merely statistics but they are rather telling and it could translate into more or less confidence within each player.
Last year, Federer beat Djokovic three times while the world No. 1 had the upper hand in the remaining five. All of Federer’s wins though came in best-of-three matches and Djokovic won both grand slam finals they played at Wimbledon and the US Open.
While Federer was playing great at both those tournaments and those two finals, it was evident that over best-of-five clashes, Djokovic has the mental edge. It feels like Federer is unable to sustain his mental toughness for that extended period of time. The Swiss legend will face the same challenge on Thursday.
He’s taking on a monumental task. Djokovic, as a five-time champion at Melbourne Park between 2008 and 2015, has a stronghold on the place. Playing him here has become a daunting mission, equal in magnitude as playing Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros between 2005 and 2014.
Last year, Federer beat Djokovic in the Dubai final by having the serving day of his life. The 34-year-old will need to find that serving groove against Djokovic, and perhaps bring out the SABR – the Sneak-Attack by Roger shot that annoyed so many of his opponents in the second half of last season.
Owning the net will aid his cause although Djokovic is a great passer so Federer has got to be as clinical as he can be up front. With showers forecasted again, the match will most probably be played with the Rod Laver Arena roof closed and while Federer is great indoors, Djokovic has lost one indoor match in the last three years.
It could be a tighter match than their recent grand slam encounters but still all roads lead to Djokovic and it’s hard to imagine a final without him in it. The fact that they’re playing each other in a semi-final and not a final could mean something different for Federer, as facing Djokovic in a major final is close to mission impossible. In the semis, it’s more like mission probably not possible. Tiny difference. Maybe it’ll matter.