Returning to the Brisbane International, Petkovic improved on her previous-best semifinal appearance by reaching the final, with straight set wins over 8th seeded Alexandra Dulgheru, Jelena Dokić, Jarmila Groth, and fourth seeded Marion Bartoli. In the final she lost to Wimbledon semifinalist Petra Kvitová.
Petkovic was the 30th seed at the 2011 Australian Open. She advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Jill Craybas, Anne Keothavong, injured number three seed Venus Williams, who retired after just one game, and number 14 seed Maria Sharapova. She was defeated by finalist Li Na of China in the quarterfinals, her best achievement in a Grand Slam of her career.
Petkovic then played Fed Cup for Germany and helped them to a win over Slovenia with two wins in singles rubbers. Next, Petkovic reached the quarterfinals of the 2011 Open GDF Suez, where she lost to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a tight three-set match.
Her next tournament was in Dubai, where she defeated fellow German Angelique Kerber in straight sets for the second straight week, but lost to Kaia Kanepi in three sets in the second round.
Petkovic defeated world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Next, Petkovic faced Jelena Janković and defeated her too. In the semifinals she lost to Maria Sharapova.
At the 2011 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Petkovic upset number seven seed Janković in three sets to set up a clash with world number one Caroline Wozniacki. Petkovic would go on to lose to Wozniacki.
Petkovic won her second WTA Tour title in Strasbourg, defeating Anna-Lena Grönefeld, Zhang Shuai, Maria Kirilenko and Daniela Hantuchová. In the final she faced home favorite and number 1 seed Marion Bartoli and won the title after Bartoli retired early in the second set. After that performance, Petkovic reached her new career-high ranking of No. 12 as of 23 May 2011.
As the 15th seed, Petkovic reached the quarterfinals of the 2011 French Open. She beat Bojana Jovanovski, Lucie Hradecká, 24th seed Jarmila Gajdosova, and 25th seed Maria Kirilenko to reach the last eight, where she lost to seventh seed Maria Sharapova.
One month later, Petkovic lost in the third round at Wimbledon against the young Russian player Ksenia Pervak.
In August, she became the sixth German player in history to crack the Top 10 by winning her opening match at the Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego against American player Alexa Glatch. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, she made it to the quarterfinals where she lost to Agnieszka Radwańska. At Cincinnati, Petkovic made the semifinals in spite of injury, before losing to Jelena Janković in straight sets.
At the US Open, Petkovic was seeded tenth. She beat Ekaterina Bychkova and Zheng Jie to progress to the third round, where she beat the eighteenth seed Roberta Vinci to set up a fourth round match with Carla Suarez Navarro, equalling her career best performance at the event up to that point. She went on to win the match against Navarro to secure her first ever quarterfinals spot at the US Open against the world number one Caroline Wozniacki. She performed her trademark dance to delight the audience after her fourth round win. On 8 September she lost to Wozniacki in straight sets.
Seeded ninth at the China Open Petkovic defeated Lucie Šafářová and Carla Suarez Navarro to reach the third round where she emerged victorious over Marion Bartoli in three sets. In the quarterfinals she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and proceeded to the semifinals where she won against Monica Niculescu. In the final, she faced Agnieszka Radwańska and lost in a tight three-setter. She was seeded second at the Ladies Linz but withdrew before the tournament began, citing a right knee injury.
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