sport

Reborn Petkovic reaches quarters

A year after considering quitting tennis, Andrea Petkovic is through to her first grand slam quarter-final for three years.

In 2011, the popular German made the last eight at three of the four slams and was ranked in the top 10.

But back, ankle and knee injuries over the next 18 months sent her ranking plummeting to 177 when she finally returned to the tour for good in March last year.

After losing in the second round of qualifying at Roland Garros last year, Petkovic thought about calling it a day.

The 26-year-old said: "It wasn't because I had lost in the second round against some player that was ranked 160. It wasn't about that. It was just I didn't like playing any more. I hated it.

"I was putting so much pressure on myself to get back where I was, and it wasn't fun any more. I was just forcing. Everything was work and hard. It wasn't what it was, why I started playing tennis.

"I started playing tennis because I love it and it's a big part of my life. It brought so much to me and my family.

"I think it brings so many people together, and it's a nice, a beautiful thing, and it's not something that is ugly and hard and difficult.

"That's what it was for me when I came back from my injuries.

"My footwork was off, my strokes were bad. My serve was bad. I hated it. That's why I wanted to stop. After that, I won a tournament, luckily, so I didn't, and I kept doing what I did.

"And now I'm here and it's a nice reward."

That title came in Marseille and final appearances in Nuremberg and Washington followed, while in April she won the biggest tournament of her career in Charleston.

Petkovic is back to 27th in the rankings and on Monday beat surprise package Kiki Bertens 1-6 6-2 7-5 in the fourth round of the French Open.

The draw has undoubtedly worked out well but Petkovic has taken advantage, albeit a little hesitantly this time.

She said: "I was really relieved that I picked myself up after I was up 4-2 in the third and I started playing a little passively.

"I wasn't going for my shots any more. I was sort of hoping that she was going to miss. She's too good for that.

"After going down 5-4 in the third, I just told myself, 'Okay, listen, you have to play aggressive. You have to go for your shots, and nobody's going to give you the quarter-finals just because you're nice, so go gain it'.

"I started playing more aggressively. It paid off in the end."

Petkovic will have to step up her game if she is to go any further with 2012 finalist Sara Errani up next.

The 10th seed defeated sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 in a minor upset to make the quarter-finals for the third straight year.

The Serbian was left to rue a missed opportunity, saying: "It's a big disappointment, especially when you see the draw and who is left in the draw.

"It's one of those French Opens that opened up, especially for me."

Jankovic's exit means fourth seed Simona Halep is the only member of the top six still standing.

The Romanian made just her second grand slam quarter-final thanks to a 6-4 6-3 victory over 15th seed Sloane Stephens.

There she will face 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is once again having a good run at Roland Garros and defeated Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-4.

Kuznetsova is through to the last eight for the seventh time in the last nine years and last year troubled Serena Williams at the same stage.