Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who is Petra Cetkovska, and why is she beating everyone?

Just a few years ago, I was doing a "Czech watch," and two young players, both named Petra, looked promising. One, of course, was Petra Kvitova, who is now number 8 in the world. The other was Petra Cetkovska. Cetkovska's star did not rise the way Petra Kvitova's did. She is currently number 81 in the world, which is not bad at all, but she was hardly someone that tennis observers would have picked to be in the round of 16 at Wimbledon.

In the first round, Cetkovska defeated Kristina Barrois. Then she pulled off a shock upset against 13th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who is an especially good grass court player. Even more startling--Radwanska was two points from victory in the second set when Cetkovska broke her and went on to win the match.

Most of the time, when a lower-ranked player upsets a big player, she will lose in the next round. But Cetkovska went on to upset 18th seed Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in the third round. The win included a 7-0 tiebreak score in the second set. Cetkovska served very well, and made only twelve unforced errors.

So who is Petra Cetkovska? The 26-year-old is a native of the Czech Republic and plays for the Czech Republic, but lives in Paris. She has never won a WTA title, but--think back--she reached the round of 16 at the French Open in 2008. At that time, she beat Alona Bondarenko, Galina Voskoboeva and Iveta Benesova. She then lost to 2nd seed Ivanovic, the eventual champion. That year, Cetkovska also earned her highest ranking, number 49 in the world.

Cetkovska says that her favorite shots are the serve and the volley, and that's not something you hear very often. It would also make sense that she feels comfortable on grass courts. She'll have her hand full with Sabine Lisicki as her round of 16 opponent.

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