After winning the Family Circle Cup championship Sunday afternoon, Andrea Petkovic broke into the "Petko Dance."
It's sort of a dance-club take on the twist - even ESPN TV analyst Pam Shriver tried it during a postmatch interview - and it might be making a comeback on the WTA Tour.
Petkovic, a 26-year-old German and a top-10 player just three years ago, took a giant step toward a return to tennis prominence with a 7-5, 6-2 win over unseeded Jana Cepelova before an appreciative crowd at Billie Jean King Stadium Court on Daniel Island.
In the doubles final Sunday, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova claimed the championship with a 7-6, 6-2 win over sisters Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan.
Petkovic's victory, her third WTA title, earned her a winner's check of $120,000 and will vault her from her current rank of No. 40 back into the top 30. More importantly, it could signal a return to the form that had the powerfully built, 5-11 Petkovic ranked as high as No. 9 in the world in 2011 before injuries knocked her from the top 175.
Every Family Circle Cup champion in the tournament's illustrious 42-year history has either been ranked in the top 3 or made a Grand Slam final at some point in their career.
"Yeah! Come on, baby, you can do it," Petkovic said when apprised of that fact. "I might have to readjust my goals."
The 20-year-old Cepelova will have to do some readjusting, as well. She will gain almost as much from the week as Petkovic. Cepelova knocked out world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday night; ranked No. 78, she's the lowest ranked player ever to make a Family Circle Cup final.
But now, she'll jump into the top 50, and she earned a lot of respect for the grit she showed on Daniel Island, playing without her coach or any family on site. The Slovkian had to search for her own warmup partners and used a fellow player as a coach during her upset of Serena.
"Before the tournament, if somebody tell me, 'You will be in final,' I cannot believe them," Cepelova said in her halting English. "Right now, you know, I'm a little bit upset. But maybe tomorrow everything (will be) OK. For me, it was really nice week here in Charleston, really nice tournament, and I am happy for that. But I lost in the final."
Petkovic's humorous victory speech - she told Cepelova "I could have coached you this week" and cracked, "I'm like a politician, I'm talking more than anybody" - provided a glimpse of the personality that made her win a popular one among her WTA peers.
"Sooo happy for you! Party crazy like only Petko can," tweeted Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.
A string of injuries to her back, ankles and knee in the last two years had Petkovic wondering how long she could keep playing. She said the low point came at last year's French Open, when she lost in the second round of qualifying.
"That's when I wanted to stop," she said. "There were many times when I wanted to stop . I didn't believe it at all in certain moments, but I kept wanting it. And that's why I kept working, and I'm very thankful that it paid off in the end."
There was no stopping Petkovic on Sunday.
Down 3-0 in the first set, Cepelova showed her fighting spirit by winning four straight games. But Petkovic fought off a set point and served out the set at 7-5, and was in total command from there, winning the first five games of the second set.
"It's tough to play for me today because I was a little bit tired from other matches," Cepelova said. "I tried to fight, but she's a great player. She was better today."
After the "Petko Dance," Andrea's next move on-court was to call her father, Zoran, on her cell phone. Zoran Petkovic played tennis at the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s after leaving his native Yugoslavia, and Andrea credits her father's Western experience and education with changing her own future.
"I know what I went through in the past years, and I know what I worked for, and it's very rewarding now," she said. "And I just feel very happy."
Andrea Petkovic of Germany reacts to winning the Family Circle Cup championship over Jana Cepelova of Slovakia. Wade Spees/Staff Sunday, April 6, 2014×
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