Having peaked at world No.3 back in 2006, Petrova enjoyed arguably her best season since that breakthrough, jumping from No.29 to No.12 and winning three titles during 2012, including the biggest of her career at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Strengths: The Russian is one of the most complete players in the game. Her serve, among the strongest on the WTA Tour, is complemented by booming groundstrokes, excellent athleticism, a willingness to attack and polished net skills, honed through her consistent doubles success. Her aggressive game translates well to all surfaces, evidenced by the fact she has reached at least the quarterfinals at all Grand Slam events throughout her career.
Weaknesses: Although she has the technical aspects down pat, Nadia’s mentality has always been suspect. For a player of her talents she has arguably underachieved, and when those big weapons aren’t finding their mark, it can be pretty disastrous. Consistency has always been her Achilles’ heel. And against the top players on the biggest stages, Petrova has blinked. She had Sharapova on the ropes at this year’s US Open before going down, and at Australian Open 2007, failed to close out the match when leading Serena 6-1 5-3 in the third round. Williams went on to win the tournament.
Opportunities: Now ranked 12th, Petrova is mere striking distance away from a return to the top 10, which would be her first appearance inside this elite bracket in five years. And having fallen in the second round last year at Melbourne Park, she has plenty to gain from a strong showing this time around. It’s not out of the question – the Russian has twice before been an Australian Open quarterfinalist and is playing her best tennis in a long time.
Threats: Aside from herself (and Nadia is indeed a combustible, volatile, enigmatic force) Petrova has a history of injuries, which is not going to change now that she’s hit 30 years of age. And like all tall players, the Russian’s movement is not her primary strength, leaving her susceptible to relentless ball strikers – think Azarenka, Sharapova, Williams and Kvitova – who can dictate rallies and get her on the run.
Nicole Pratt, former world No.35 and Tennis Australia’s National Women’s Coach “Fairly recently Nadia brought on Ricardo Sanchez as her coach who had previously worked with Jelena Jankovic when she was No. 1 in the world. Obviously he's made a difference … I feel like emotionally she has been in and out of the game, her focus wavering, which is why we've seen a fluctuation with her ranking. However she's a quality player. She's towards the end of her career and is having the realisation that, 'OK, maybe I need to make the best of my last two or three years and make them some of the best I've ever had.' Nadia Petrova is capable of beating anyone on any given day.”