Family Circle Cup Notes: Defending champion Petkovic survives scare

Samantha Stosur plays Sesil Karatantcheva Tuesday April 7, 2015 during the Family Circle Cup. Stosur won in straight sets. Grace Beahm/Staff

Defending champion Andrea Petkovic said it never crossed her mind that she might lose her opening-round match Tuesday in the Family Circle Cup. But South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers certainly opened Petkovic’s eyes by convincingly winning the opening set.

Petkovic managed to turn things around, thanks to a conversation with her coach, who reminded her that she was playing the hard-court game that had taken her to the semifinals of her previous tournament in Miami but was now playing on the green clay of Family Circle Cup’s Stadium Court. With that in mind, Petkovic rallied for an encouraging 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

“There were at least 10 or 12 shots where I just stopped moving because I thought that the rally was over…The thing I love most about clay I didn’t do at all in the first set So this is a case where it’s good to have on-court coaching because otherwise I don’t know if I would have won the match,” said the 27-year-old from Germany.

Petkovic said she was hitting the ball fine but wasn’t being patient in the rallies. And she needed to get accustomed to the clay.

“I wanted to finish off the rally in three or four shots, which is impossible on clay. I really tried to focus on putting more spin on the balls and being more patient in the rallies,” Petkovic said.

When she finally put Scheepers away, Petkovic broke into a dance, not as a way of ending what had to be a frustrating opening match, but because a group of spectators behind her were dancing.

“It was contagious,” Petkovic said.

“It never really crossed my mind I might lose. That’s actually the upside of being confident when you’ve played well in a tournament before. Even when you’re playing badly and things are not going your way, you always have this belief in yourself that you’re somehow going to turn the match around. So that was really,really good for me,” Petkovic continued.

“As strange as it sounds, (playing) three sets may be good for me. Now I really have no excuses anymore if I lose.”

Fine dining in Charleston

Veteran Samantha Stosur is known as one of the fittest players on the WTA Tour, her bulging biceps a favorite of tennis photographers around the world.

But her diet plan -- at least while she’s in Charleston -- is not one for mere mortals.

“The goal,” she said, “is to eat as much as possible, but keep playing lots of matches so you don’t put on 10 pounds.”

The 31-year-old Australian carefully plans her dining destinations when she comes to the Family Circle Cup so that she hits new spots as well as old favorites.

“I actually booked every night of the week, just in case I was here the whole week,” said Stosur, who won the Family Circle Cup in 2010. “Two restaurants every night ... So if anyone’s looking for an extra reservation, I’ve probably got one.”

So Stosur’s win over Sesil Karantantcheva on Tuesday got her into the second round -- and earned her another feast at a Charleston restaurant.

Martina doubles up

WTA great Martina Hingis has embarked on a second career of sorts -- as a doubles specialist. The 34-year-old Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles during her career, is playing doubles with India’s Sania Mirza, and the pair won doubles titles at Miami and Indian Wells.

Hingis and Mirza will make their Family Circle Cup debut on Stadium Court on Wednesday night, facing Anastasia and Arina Rodionova of Australia.

TV Time

Every singles match at this year’s Family Circle Cup will be live-streamed on ESPN3, giving fans in 143 countries access to the tournament, with a total of 93 matches over 130 hours of airtime available on TV and the web. ESPN2 will carry matches from 1-2:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Kids free

Kids under 15 are admitted free to the Family Circle Cup all week with an accompanying adult.

Attendance Watch

The Family Circle Cup is off to a fast start in attendance, with crowds of 6,314 and 6,340 coming out for qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday, and 5,486 on hand for Monday’s first day of main draw play. On Tuesday, 11,534 fans were on hand, 6,432 for the day session and 5,102 for the night matches.

(Tommy Braswell contributed to this story)