The Petko Pulse: Five Questions with Andrea Petkovic

© Matt Hazlett/BNP Paribas Open

Andrea Petkovic is a thinking-woman's player. The 79th-ranked German could have gone for a career in academia, but she instead chose tennis. And we’re all the better for it. One of the WTA Tour's most popular personalities, she's well read, loves to visit art museums when on the road (which is a LOT), and brings an existentialist's sensibility to the sport. sat down with the always quotable Petkovic — who rose to a career-high No. 9 in 2011 -- at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. She plays countrywoman and No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber in Saturday's first match on Stadium 1.

Q: Your good friend and Fed Cup teammate Angie Kerber is back at No. 1. You know her game as well as anyone. What makes her so tough? 
AP: With Angie, the court just always seems smaller, just because she covers so much ground. That’s the easiest way to put it. Then again, she creates angles and makes your court so big. So you feel stressed playing her. It’s not somebody like Serena, where you’re scared she’s going to hit you off the court. But still, you go onto the court and you’re stressed because you have fewer possibilities. I love playing her because it’s so tactical, so chess-like. I wish I had more skills to be able to handle it. I love that challenge in tennis.
Q: You’re a big fan of the late writer David Foster Wallace, himself a former tennis prodigy. I was wondering if you saw the James Ponsoldt film 'The End of the Tour', which centered on Wallace.  
AP: I did see it. I liked it because I think it captured the essence of what he was all about, because he was very ambiguous. I would have hated it if they had just pictured him as this genius who is so great. I liked Jessie Eisenberg as this kind of nerdy journalist/aspiring writer who is jealous and at the same time admiring. So I think they did a good job. I felt like they all read everything about him and read all his books. I think you could see that in the film. They knew what they were talking about. They were trying to show all aspects of him.

Read: Five Questions With Johanna Konta
Q: What was your reaction when you heard your close friend Ana Ivanovic was going to retire? 
AP: I was shocked. If she had retired four weeks earlier, I wouldn’t have been that surprised, because we were in touch and I knew her thoughts were moving in that direction. But the last time I talked to her she was practicing in Dubai. I thought she had made up her mind to play another season. Then all of a sudden she retired. That’s why I was so shocked.
Q: Your fellow German Tommy Haas is now the Tournament Director here. 
AP: It’s nothing I would have ever imagined. It’s so weird. I still see him as a player. But I think it’s good to bring in players, former players as tournament directors, as long as they are educated and well trained. What I’ve heard from the WTA and others behind the scenes is that he really protects the players, stands up for the players, to make the tournament the best possible for them. I think that’s really nice.  
Q: What are you listening to these days? 
AP: I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead. I don’t know why. OK Computer and Kid A have been going constantly. This morning I was listening to the first album by Bon Iver [For Emma, Forever Ago]. I really like it. It’s so simple. The new stuff is great, but you kind of have to sit there and actively listen. I think I’m going to listen to that tonight as well.