If Tennis Hate almost defeated Andrea Petkovic, it was tennis love that pulled her through. Petko, seeded 18th, defeated qualifier Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, as she should have, 7-6 (7), 1-6, 6-3. But, Haters, it shouldn't have been so ugly. Both struggled getting first serves in. Both hit a lot of unforced errors. Both made some poor shot choices.
But the German had something Jabeur didn't, and that was a cheering section. Four women sat along the sideline, about two rows up, wearing matching T-shirts that spelled out ANDY PET KO VIC. They chanted, "Let's go, Pet-ko!" and cheered every winner and break point saved.
"We know her personally," said Mariola Joschko. "We met her in 2009."
"Her dad, Zohan, is here! He invited us for a beer! Want to come?"
Haters, I demurred. I must remain objective, you know. This is serious stuff, this blogging.
Did I mention that I said, more than a few times, "C'mon, Petko!" during the match?
So did the T-shirt team. They also cheered loudly when she hit winners (which didn't come often enough, 21 winners to 41 unforced errors) and when she fended off break points (six out of eleven, while Jabeur saved just one out of five).
Andrea was able to stare down those break points by some clutch serving. Overall, she got 65 percent of her first serves in, compared to a miserable 49 percent for Ons. But that was the big difference between them. Otherwise, they were sisters in sloppiness. Both had 41 unforced errors for the match. Andrea double faulted four times, Ons, five. Their serves averaged around 96 miles per hour, so cautious they were being in getting the darn thing in the service box.
Jabeur slumped around court looking gloomy. Petko took her Tennis Hate out on her racquet, bouncing it sky-high after she let slip an early break of Jabeur in the third set to go down, 1-2.
Her fans understood. Asked if she ever experienced Tennis Hate on the court, Tina Schulte answered, "Doesn't everybody?" Thank you, Tina. I don't feel so alone!
What these tennis fans hate the most, though? The French Open. "They allow too many people onto the courts," said Joschko. "It's crowded. It's expensive. And the people there don't treat you very nice."