Originally, Agnieszka Radwanska was scheduled to compete at home for the past two weeks but shoulder problems have kept her out of her home events in Katowice and Fed Cup in Inowroclaw. Yesterday, the 27 year old sat down with the media in Stuttgart to talk about fitness, her difficult stretch on the clay in 2015 and the mentality tackling the most challenging part of her season.
The disappointment in Poland was palpable when Agnieszka Radwanska was forced to pull out of the Katowice Open earlier this month but in the end, the World No. 2 needed a break to recover after playing a lot of matches this year – and her shoulder was starting to feel the effects.
“Well, it’s much better,” Radwanska said, as she met the press prior to the start of her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix campaign. “I had good two weeks at home, having recovery, rehab and everything that I could have there. That were good two weeks, also for a good rest and be ready for the clay court season.”
Being ready for the clay season has turned out to be a tricky endeavor to the Polish star, as the red dirt has been the weakest surface for Radwanska over the course of the past few years. On grass and hard courts, Radwanska has made impressions in Grand Slams and won a number of titles, but only two of her 18 career finals have come on the clay courts.
“I’m doing anything to prepare for that surface,” she said. “Well, I hope it’s going to be better than last year. That wasn’t too great. Well, what can I say, I’ll try, we’ll see.”
Last year, it wasn’t just the clay courts that gave the 27-year-old trouble. Radwanska wasn’t just sliding out of tournaments early but also announced she stopped working with mentor Martina Navratilova a few days after losing her opening match to Sara Errani here in Stuttgart.
Radwanska’s ranking has been deceptive for a while at that point, buoyed up by her title in Montreal in August 2014 but she tumbled out of Top 20 of the 2015 Race To Singapore rankings by May. It wasn’t until the 2012 Wimbledon finalist hit the green lawns of England that her form began to pick up dramatically — which culminated in a WTA Finals title in Singapore.
Now, 12 months later, Radwanska is back where she feels she belongs: firmly in the Top 5 of the rankings, making semifinals at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells — and she’s learned a valuable lesson along the way:
“Yes, for sure that was a bit different time last year than this year. Those couple of months weren’t great. I was feeling okay. I was doing everything right during the practice, I just couldn’t do it when I was going on the court for a match. I think I just didn’t have enough rest and I was physically a bit tired, and I was getting worse and worse. Instead of actually stepping back I was trying to do more and more and that wasn’t a good idea.
“So, I guess the best experience is from your own mistakes. Now, I know we are not getting any younger. It is different than when I was 20 years old and could do everything. Now, every match costs me much more energy and costs me much more than before. Now, I really have to think about the schedule a couple of times and think not only about the next week or two but about what is going to happen in a few months — if I’m going to be in the same shape and feel as fresh as at the beginning of the year, because our season is 10 months.”
Recently, Navratilova made a guest appearance on the WTA Insider podcast, also talking about her former charge’s chances on the clay – putting particularly emphasis on the mental aspect of getting up for the surfaces. While Radwanska acknowledged that it is a different mindset heading into clay, she also pointed out the most important aspect in her view:
“Pretty much what changes the most is the fitness, how you move on court and the tennis is also different,” she said. “You can’t really play and go for it so much because the bounce can be just weird and then you just frame the whole match. So, that’s not a good idea. I think again it’s practice and use that surface. Everything can be different and also every clay court is different.”
As for this week, Radwanska is keeping expectations low, considering this will be her first match in a while and also her first encounter on clay.
“I don’t know [how I’m going to do.] I don’t really think about it. It’s just there. I have no idea what I’m going to do. You have to watch,” she said with a smirk. “There is not much pressure on the clay [for me] I don’t have much points to defend. That also helps. Whatever I do, it’s for me. So, I hope, I can really do well.”
In her first match in Stuttgart, Radwanska is going to face the winner of Andrea Petkovic and Kristina Mladenovic on Thursday.