Biofile: The Philipp Petzschner Interview
By Scoop Malinowski
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Philipp Petzschner, aka Picasso, in action.
© Getty Images
There's a thin line between genius and nuttiness on court. Philipp Petzschner has crossed that line as often as stepping over the baseline, which is where Picasso comes in.
Petzschner's blue period isn't confined to his first career Grand Slam victory over compatriot Benjaming Becker at the 2007 US Open — it's his approach to the game that earned him the nickname Picasso.
"The rest normally call me Picasso. (Why?) Because I'm pretty close between being a genius on the court and completely nut. That's what they say," Petzschner says with a smile.
Lately, the 125th-ranked German has been leaning more toward brilliance than madness. The 24-year-old Petzschner stunned top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), at the Bank-Austria Tennis Trophy tournament in Vienna on Tuesday. He followed that performance with a to advance to a second-round match with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over qualifier Jan Hernych today to advance to a quarterfinal match with either Carlos Moya or Eduardo Schwank.
It is the second quarterfinal in the last three events for Petzschner, who beat Marat Safin en route to the Bangkok quarterfinals last month. Petzschner, who has scored career wins over Rainer Schuettler, Florent Serra, Evgeny Korolev and Mischa Zverev sat down with Tennis Week contributor/boxing author Scoop Malinowski, whose rapid- fire interview style is the verbal equivalent of Aaron Pryor throwing bunches of punches against Alexis Arguello, for this Biofile Interview.
: 6-foot-1, 154 pounds.
: March 24, 1984 in Bayreuth, Germany.
: "My father used to play, so we had our own tennis center back in Germany. So it was pretty clear from the beginning that I start playing tennis. And I kind of liked it. So I made my hobby into a job. I enjoy it very much so it was also my inspiration."
: "Some call me Petszchy and the rest normally call me Picasso. (Why?) Because I'm pretty close between being a genius on the court and completely nut. That's what they say [smiles]."
: "I like to, for sure, golf. I love to play golf. The rest, just hanging around, normally take walks through the parks. I'm normally the relaxed kind of guy."
: "Mean Machine."
Favorite TV Shows
: "I will go for How I Met Your Mother and Prison Break."
: "All kinds, but right now I'm into the German rock — Totenhosen."
Last Book Read
: "Was actually 'Complete Idiot.' About a guy in his mid-thirties just making bullshit for his whole life. And just trying to build something."
First Tennis Memory
: "I would go for my first junior tournament I played back in Austria and I won it with my older sister (Isabel) in mixed."
: "Was a Honda Civic."
: "A BMW."
: "(Think about?) about what to eat in the evening [smiles]. I'm kidding. We talk before the match, with my coach. But right before the match we are normally talking about soccer or something, for sure not the tennis."
: "I would go for sushi and pizza."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Favorite Web Site
: "It's kicker.de, it's German, about the bundesliga."
Greatest Sports Moment
: "I think it was...good question...I think it was last year when I qualified and I won my first round on the Grand Slam level against Benjamin Becker (at the US Open, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1). And then I was allowed to play on the Grand Stand against Tommy Haas. Had a great match, it was crowded, people went nuts in the fourth set. That was one of the best experiences I had; lost 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 5-7 in the fourth. And oh, of course, my first Davis Cup experience in Moscow in the doubles, that was also a great moment."
Most Painful Moment
: "I would go for the singles the day after, Moscow Davis Cup, semifinals lost to Youzhny, four sets. We lost the match 2-3 so we couldn't advance to finals."
: "Wimbledon and US Open."
Closest Tennis Friends
: "Alexander Peya and Christopher Kas."
Funniest Players Encountered
: "Dimitry Tursunov of course. Gael Monfils."
: "I would say for me it would be Fabrice Santoro. Because we have a similar kind of game. But he plays maybe a little bit smarter from time to time. I think the toughest one at the moment is Rafa for sure."
Funny Tennis Memory
: "I played doubles this year with Peya in Bensancon, France. And I was with Peya (vs. Tecau/Allegro). I was playing the return at the feet and he was crossing at the net. And they straight hit him to the head and he was heading the ball like to cross-court short angle. It was a winner, we broke them with this point. And he was just lying on the floor, laughing. Nobody knew if he was hitting with the racquet or the head. He was lying on the floor, the referee was asking him, How did you do that? You played it with the racquet? He just kept on laughing. He couldn't say a word. That was the funniest thing I've seen in my life [smiles]. (So you won the point?) We won the point. We win this game. We were down 1-3 and we win the match 6-3, 6-1. So that was like the complete turnaround in the whole match [smiles]."
Embarrassing Tennis Memory
: "There were none so far, I remember at least."
Favorite Players To Watch
: "Federer. He's just a genius, with him it looks so elegant. So relaxed. Greatest player of all time, for me. Back then, I loved to watch Ivanisevic going crazy. And the way Edberg played, I enjoyed that also."
Best You Ever Felt On Court
: "Last year against Tommy Haas second round US Open. I didn't play my best tennis. It was just such a great experience. Such a great fight. And afterwards we turned out to be friends. So much fun on the court as well. I lost but it was an amazing experience to be out there."
: "Was Maldives."
People Qualities Most Admired
: "Honesty and humor. The most important is for sure the honesty but I couldn't spend time with people who don't have a sense of humor."