Tomasz Wiktorowski: “The revolution must continue.”

Original source:

Revolution must continue

It’s been argued for years that Agnieszka plays too passively. If she wants to mend that, they say that „she should play like she used to”. But she has to make fundamental changes – and she’s doing it – says Tomasz Wiktorowski, Agnieszka Radwańska’s coach.

Jakub Ciastoń: How do you assess those first two months of  Agnieszka’s season? Perhaps she expected more from herself?

Tomasz Wiktorowski: You have to realize what it means to work with Martina Navratilova. It’s a shock, an enormous change when it comes to attitude towards training and matches. Agnieszka has some deeply established habits which tell her to stand at the back of the court, move back, even in training sessions – she is not able to move forward. We have been trying to do a simple exercise, we ask Agnieszka to try to play closer to the baseline, hit targets placed by the lines, sometimes even outside the court. It’s not about accuracy, it’s about generating more power. Agnieszka subconsciously is not able to do it, she is used to being solid, making sure she puts the ball in the court, she just can’t hit too hard on purpose. Attitude change needs time, two months is not enough.

Navratilova’s harsh criticism after the match against Venus Williams caused a lot of confusion in Poland…

Martina admitted later she went a bit overboard. Nobody is blaming anybody, though you’d have to ask Agnieszka how she feels about it. Maybe a shock therapy was necessary? Agnieszka really has to start playing differently if she wants to improve. She understands that and that’s why she took a risk and hired Martina. She should analyze calmly what Martina has to say.

Women’s tennis is changing. A couple of years ago you could play from the back of the court, keep the ball in play for a long time, and be successful. Nowadays, players who are advancing in the rankings, like Garbine Muguruza or Madison Keys, play more like men. Their game is based on strong serve and quick pace. Three, four strokes and it’s over. Agnieszka has to adapt and find her place in all this. How? I have talked about it many times. With her physicality, she won’t become Serena Williams, she won’t start killing the ball, but she can play more aggressively by using what she already has now. Her first serve should be faster, not 145 km/h. Her second serve can’t be 113 km/h. There should be more shots down the line and closer to the lines. Return of serve needs to be more aggressive. A good return of serve once meant putting the ball inside the court, it’s different now. Now she has to push an opponent back to the baseline. That’s why in return games players take more risks. Women’s tennis has less rhythm now, rallies are becoming shorter and shorter. Fewer and fewer players base their game on long rallies, changes of directions and solidity.

Any conclusions after two months? The revolution is going well?

Sometimes yes, sometimes not. In some matches Agnieszka played really aggressively, just how we want her to do it – aggression, intensity and attitude. Take her matches against Johanna Larsson in Australia or Flavia Pennetta in Doha. There were also moments when she played badly. Last sets of her matches against Venus Willaims or that match against Muguruza in Dubai showed regression to her old style. In those matches Agnieszka had only moments of good tennis. Muguruza and Williams make too few mistakes so Agnieszka can’t play her old tennis. Her more aggressive style lacks stability yet but I see red when I hear some people saying “She should play like she used to. Not enough people notice that she wants to change something absolutely fundamental in her game. After so many years it’s really difficult and risky.

So what’s the diagnosis for now?

Agnieszka isn’t used to a more aggressive style. She needs time. You can’t change years of habits in one moment. When she’s in trouble, she tends to go back to what she was doing before. She feels that something is disturbing the familiar rhythm.

Agnieszka and Martina won’t lose patience towards each other?

I don’t know. They haven’t so far. I agree a hundred percent with what Martina says about  Agnieszka. And not only her. Martina talks about  Agnieszka with other greats of the sport. They don’t sit in front of a TV in Poland, they go to tournaments, watch live matches, they know all the players and discuss them all the time. They all keep saying the same – Agnieszka has to move forward and play more aggressively. Agnieszka understands it too.

The Fed Cup tie against Russia ended with a failure. The Russians were not supposed to care, but they did.

Yes, they did, they were motivated. It’s strange the court didn’t roll on itself under their feet the way they were running. Agnieszka didn’t win the key match against Kuznetsova, the same thing as in matches against Williams happened. She regressed to a more passive tennis.

Agnieszka still feels motivated to win grand slams?

She had a difficult moment at the end of last year, she felt tired. I was afraid about what’s next. But now the energy and enthusiasm are back. Agnieszka wants to keep changing, she’s hopeful about the future. On the 5 March we’re flying to California, we want to spend as much time as possible with Martina who will be with us during both tournaments.

Before the season started you said that Agnieszka has to gain two, three kg of muscle, which will give her more power. They’re not noticeable.

Honestly? I can’t see them too but the tendency is good. Power training has not been enough, it seems. Let’s not forget about a diet too – Agnieszka eats too little to balance the amount of energy she burns. We have been going to tournaments with our own food for some time now, we consult dieticians, have nutrition supplements. But Agnieszka sometimes resists. It’s a difficult topic.

Robert Radwański, Agnieszka’s father and former coach, says that “Wiktorowski must go, Agnieszka isn’t progressing”.

I have never been disloyal to him, When it comes to training I do my job, that’s what I’ve got to say. This discussion is uncomfortable for Agnieszka, especially when it happens in the media.  It would be helpful is she felt support from her close ones, not negativity.


Translation by Joanna

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