Petkovic’s Local Connection: A USC Dad

(Photos: Left courtesy of University of South Carolina; right Volvo Car Open)

Andrea Petkovic has only been to Charleston twice in her career, but for a player who was born in Bosnia and who grew up in Germany, she has quite the surprising South Carolina connection: her dad played four years of tennis for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

“Actually, I don’t know why he came to South Carolina,” said a smiling Petkovic Saturday afternoon. “He came with me here last year and he was so happy because everybody was like, ‘Oh, nice to have you back.’ He was all proud.”

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And proud he should have been. Zoran Petkovic played four years at USC as the No. 1 singles player, going 79-31 in his career, notching the 18th most wins in school history (fifth when he achieved it).

Zoran is not in attendance this year with Andrea at the Volvo Car Open as she’s blazed through the draw, recording wins over former champion (and countrywoman) Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinals before edging an on-fire Genie Bouchard yesterday in a dramatic semi.

“It’s a little sad that he couldn’t come this year, but I’m just very proud of him and everything he achieved,” said a sentimental Petkovic. “Coming from Yugoslavia where it was communism back then, it wasn’t easy to get out of it. He just gave me all the chances that I took in my life to be the person I am today. The chances and opportunities that I had in tennis I wouldn’t have without him going to college here in the U.S. And so I’m just very proud of him.”

Petkovic should be proud of herself, too, winning through to her first WTA Premier-level final since 2011, after which a slew of injuries took ahold of her career.

The former top 10 player – now ranked 40th – will edge closer back to where she once was in 2010 and 2011, knocking on the door of the best in the game. And making the Cup final certainly helps that, too.

“It’s funny how destiny plays,” Petkovic said, reflecting. “Reaching a final of a big tournament here in South Carolina where my father went to college is an honor, and it’s nice. It’s a blessing.”