Round-of-16 mission for Team Petkovic

PARIS – There have been a few women’s matches that have gone deep into the third set or even into overtime at this year’s French Open.

The ones most people have noticed were more high profile.

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Anastasia Sevastova’s win over Elise Mertens on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday was a notable example.

But all the way in the back of the Roland Garros site Thursday, on Court 14, an entertaining second-round match before a house filled primarily with German fans featured two veterans slugging it out with a lot at stake.

The winner was 31-year-old Andrea Petkovic, who came back from a set down to upset No. 27 seed Hsieh Su-Wei of Taipei (and Paris) 4-6, 6-3, 8-6 and advanced to a third-round meeting with No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty Saturday.

Here’s what it looked like.

The French Open was the scene of Petkovic’s best career result at a Grand Slam. She reached the semifinals back in 2014. And that result put her into the top-20 for the first time since her best year in 2011.

For both, best moments in Paris

For Hsieh, about 18 months older than Petkovic at 33, a career near-drought in her adopted home of Paris came to an end in 2017.

It wasn’t just that she made the third round. Hsieh has reached the round of 16 twice in Australia and once at Wimbledon.

It was how she did it.

Hsieh came back from a 1-6 loss in the first set of her first-round match against Johanna Konta and won. She beat Taylor Townsend in the second round.

And in the third round, as she squared off with home-country hope Caroline Garcia, her pure enjoyment of the entire thing earned her a lot of new fans.

 

 

Her two-handed-on-both-sides, funky game already gave her unsung heroine status among the deeply embedded.

In careers that likely won’t include major titles, these are the moments to remember.

Smiling Hsieh’s fun run ends

Back on a solid path

Petkovic had her moments in which she questioned her career in the last few years – especially as she fell out of the top 100.

But things seem fairly on track again. Even if the game has gotten exponentially tougher since she did get to the top 10 back in 2011.

Andrea Petkovic puts struggles in perspective

Notably, her backhand looks nicely straightened out. She tended to jam herself up with it (technically, it reminded you of Borna Coric’s backhand). But it appears a lot smoother now.

She was impressively consistent against Hsieh, who is not easy to play.

Team Petkovic fired up

The challenge against Barty on Saturday will be more significant for Petkovic, who will be looking to get into the second week of a major for the first time since that 2014 Paris semi.

This third-round effort is the best for the German since she got that far at the French, Wimbledon and US Open, consecutively, in 2015.

She has, somewhat surprisingly, never played Barty. Unless you count that one set at the Hopman Cup exhibition back in 2013, before Petkovic retired.

Whatever happens, it won’t be from a lack of full commitment from Team Petko.

Included are former Serbian pro and Davis Cup player Ilija Bozoljac, who’s only 33 and whose last match came in doubles at Wimbledon last summer.

Also on board the Petko train is Jesse Kotansky, whose credential lists him as her physio but who apparently is a New York-based musician (and also, reportedly, Petkovic’s boyfriend).

They were FIRE during that Hsieh match.

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