“It’s more the French who are teasing me” – Amélie Mauresmo interviewed by @fLaberne in lÉquipe

From the print edition of lÉquipe March 16 2015. Interview by Frédéric Bernes

Amélie Mauresmo isn’t talking much with Andy Murray about the upcoming Davis Cup meeting between the UK and France. She won’t be there, but she has a rock-solid alibi.

After a break of a week for the Davis Cup, Amélie Mauresmo has met up again with “her” Andy Murray at Indian Wells, where the Scot imposed himself from the start by defeating Vasek Pospisil [6-1,6-3]. Very relaxed on the California soil, the Frenchwoman says she’s delighted and proud of soon entering the tennis Hall of Fame and is happy about the arrival of Jonas Björkman at her side to coach Murray.

18 July, perhaps on grass at Queen’s, it will be Davis Cup doubles day between Great Britain and France. But you, where will you be?

Not there, that’s certain. I’ll be making an unscheduled trip [smiles].

You’ll be then at Newport in the United States for your induction into the Hall of Fame …

– Of course. It makes me super proud. It’s recognition from my peers. You see that not everyone gets in, it gives you an exclusivity and selectivity that’s not disagreeable. It’s good for the ego [laughs]. It’s a time to look back at what you’ve done. Me, I hadn’t been looking back. Now I notice that I’ve made a mark on the history of my sport.

Without this ceremony, would you have gone to this Davis Cup quarter-final?

Really, no. I have a whole series of things to do between the Fed Cup in April [semi finals in the Czech Republic with France] and Wimbledon. I want to be quiet and rest. And if I went, all my reactions would be scrutinised, so …

Do talk about the Davis Cup with Andy Murray?

-No, we haven’t talked much about it. We’re here and we have to manage his post-Davis Cup. He gave quite a bit in Glasgow [3-1 win over the United States]. It’s more the French who are teasing me [laughs].

When the challenge draws near, will it become taboo to talk about the French players with Andy?

Of course not. He knows as much as I do about the guys. They’re his generation, he’s played them all tonnes of times. I don’t know how I could tell him anything new.

I hope he’ll (Björkmann) will be in Miami.

What do you know about his lieutenant James Ward, the hero of Glasgow last weekend?

He was with us last winter in Miami during the preparation. Andy pulls everyone up. Suddenly James and the kid Kyle Edmund want to show him that he’s not all alone. Right now, Ward is a guy who’s hitting well. He doesn’t have a flashy game. He’s not very consistent yet.

We know that the Swede Jonas Björkman [ world number 4 in 1997] will join you very soon on Andy Murray’s team. How are you taking it?

Very well. When Dani [Valiverdu, now Berdych’s coach] left, it was obvious we needed someone. I would have preferred to have found someone between the seasons, but Andy likes to take his time and think over things. I gave him a few names [Loïc Courteau was among them], Andy offered others and Jonas’ name came up.

Do you know him?

Not well, but I work quite a bit on instinct and I feel he’s a guy who could stick. We’re awaiting his arrival. I hope it will be in Miami, but I don’t know if he’s finished with Dancing With the Stars [Swedish Version].

You’ve already spoken on the telephone?

Of course. We talked about Andy’s game, how things work … Now they have to try things out together. If it works well, we’ll offer to share the tournaments. I think it would be a super addition. I even wanted Jonas to go to Dubai [in February] with Andy.

For the Hall of Fame, you need to choose someone to make an introductory speech. And if you chose Andy Murray?

– Oh yeah, not a bad idea [laughs]

Translated by Mark Nixon

Please use the comments section for comments and suggestions. They’re always welcome.

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Nicolas Mahut on being selected for the French Davis Cup team for the first time: “I never give up”

From Franck Ramella’s article in l’Équipe March 4 2015, print edition page 13.

“I never give up.” Nicolas Mahut in l’Équipe to @franckramella

– Just before you got here I was talking with some friends about the team over-35 matches held by the TCP [Tennis Club of Paris] … Just saying that these meetings, they’re my education, my path. At Beaucouzé, my little home town [near Angers], I went along with my mother and father who played over-35 on a county level.  I got the chance to play with all the French teams – in the Winter Cup, Copa del Sol, Galéa or Borotra, all those child or junior competitions. So obviously my Holy Grail is playing the Davis Cup and winning. I’ve always trained with that as my number one objective. I grew up with the 1991 win. I was nine, I was at home, I remember it exactly, I didn’t see the whole doubles because I had a tournament. When I heard that I was selected against Germany, I told myself, “There you go – I didn’t do it all for nothing.” Seriously, I didn’t see it coming at all. I could have been selected before. When I was up to 40 in 2008 Guy [Forget] called me to tell me that I wasn’t far off. I’ve distance myself a lot since last year, but always with the idea of being the best I could possibly be. And if I’m there, it’s because I didn’t give up.

“That’s my trademark. I go all out. In 2009 I was pretty well broken everywhere with my shoulder and elbow [right side], before the Federation held a hand out to my by putting me into one of their groups. I missed five months in 2013 because of my left knee. But every time I fell, I built myself back up going all out so I wouldn’t have any regrets. Because I have a real passion for this sport, because I want to be able to look at myself in a mirror later on. Yes I’ve made mistakes. I haven’t had enough self confidence. I expected too much from those around me for a very long time. I expected them to have answers when it’s the player who has the answers. Climbing back up is learning. Three times I’ve been way down and got back up into the top 100. I think I really have mental resources. The match against John [Isner] us a perfect example. I literally felt what I could do better in terms of concentration. I can still use it in moments of extreme stress in certain matches.

“I’m full of desire, I’m fresh today. I’m lucky to have an exceptional woman at home who pushes me to the limit of what I can do. She tells me, ‘It can last another three or four years, after that you can do something else.’ OK, maybe I shouldn’t tell her that Nestor and Mirnyi are still playing at 43 and 37 … But I’m not putting up any barriers because I haven’t reached the objectives I’ve set for myself. One goal is to go the the Rio Olympics next year. Also to win a Slam doubles. The fact that I played with Mika (Llodra, notably in 2013) gave me a lot, not just his advice about doubles but also because he kept repeating non-stop that if we played together, it was to win a big title. And just by hearing it repeated you tell yourself, ‘Yeah, he’s right, that’s where we belong.’ It makes a huge difference starting out. I have more confidence today, I know myself better. I feel perfectly prepared physically. I owe a huge debt to Xavier Moreau and to Jean-Michel Levêque who have fixed my knee up. If I’d trained like this earlier, I would have had better results. Right now Thierry [Ascione, his coach] tells me he hasn’t seen me play this well in two years …”


Translated by Mark Nixon

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Andrea Petković on umpires, coaching situation and Fed Cup

Original source: Tennisnet – http://tennisnet.com/de/damen/fedcup/4675714/WTATour_Andrea-Petkovic-exklusiv-Da-muss-ich-jetzt-schon-auch

“I have to criticize the WTA there”

Miss Petković, the WTA tournament in Doha had a bitter end for you. What happened?

My opponent played very well. And I had injured my back a little bit.

You already were complaining about back pain the days before, but that had always gone away after on-court treatment. Did you go into the match injured or did it happen during the match?

No, it wasn’t injured going into the match. At the beginning, I think at 1-2 in the first set, I ran to a corner and then I just pulled my back.

What’s next for you now?

After flying home I will try to work with my physio to get a handle on things. After that Indian Wells is next. At least it’s a little break until then.

Before [the loss] you at least managed to score two wins against Kirsten Flipkens and Zarina Diyas – a revenge for the scandalous match from the previous week. How happy were you that this time, especially against Diyas, Hawkeye was available?

Ohh, very happy! (laughs) There were again a few close calls. I once again had the feeling that many things were ruled against me a couple of times when I served or returned really well on break point. She hits the ball out of the stadium, my ball gets incorrectly called out and then it’s “replay the point” and you have to start from the beginning. That was really annoying. But maybe I’m just imagining things when I go into a match paranoid like that. (laughs) You probably shouldn’t give much thought to what I’m telling you. (laughs)

What kind of impression do you have: are umpires not brave enough anymore and just rely on Hawkeye?

I have the impression that there a really big differences. There are really, really good umpires like Kader Nouni, Marija Cicak or Mohamed Lahyani. It has, I think, a lot to do with experience. They don’t care about Hawkeye, they call it how they see it. You believe them. And I think I have to criticize the WTA there. I thought it was really bad in Dubai that they put the best [umpires] on Center Court, where there is Hawkeye anyway, because it looks good on TV when the umpires perform well. There [on Center Court] all calls could be reversed at anytime. And on the outer courts they put some umpires that I have never seen before in my life. That means that, from the start, you have less trust in them than if Kader is sitting up there and says “It was out,” and you know, he has umpired 470 matches and he is probably right. He looks at you and says “Andrea, no discussions with me,” and then I just turn around and play on. It’s about the experience of the umpire, it has a lot to do with how he umpires a match. But that doesn’t excuse my hissy fit.

Do you regret that?

That just must not happen to me as a pro. There were many reasons. I was tired, I had just arrived from Antwerp, jet lag, whatever. But that must not happen. I was lucky that my racket didn’t hit anybody, it’s just inexcusable. But still, I think the good umpires should be on the courts where there is no Hawkeye – if they must have courts without it.

So you believe many umpires on outer courts are just in over their heads?

Exactly. Because I believe that out there they let the inexperienced ones just go at it, that’s the feeling I’m getting. Of course they have to make their experiences, but I question why they don’t let them do it on courts with Hawkeye. On one hand they have more pressure on these courts because the TV is there, there you have to prove yourself. On the other hand it doesn’t decide matches when they make mistakes, on Center Court the points get replayed. For me it decided the set, but it’s not just about me, but also in general. That’s my personal opinion about it.

Different topic: Eric van Harpen and you split in November. What does your coaching situation look like now? Here in Doha you were coached by Dirk Dier, who is also part of the Fed Cup and Davis Cup coaching staff. Is that more than an interim solution for you?

We will see. There’s a certain conflict of interest with Dirk, probably. If I’m playing another German he probably would have to sit somewhere else. So that’s why it is probably not the best solution, even though I really love working with him and I feel really with him during Fed Cup, too. He is a great coach and a great guy, so positive and nice. So that’s why I have to think about it after Doha. And then there also was Boric Conkic with me here. He initially started as hitting partner for me, but he has a great tennis brain and he sees a lot and he is really great. I want to keep him in my team. And if I could add an experienced personality, that would be great. But nothing has worked out so far. But I would like to keep Dirk on my side for some time. These two complement each other very well, they work together nicely.

Are you going to talk about this with your Fed Cup teammates and the captain, Barbara Rittner?

I have already asked Barbara, that goes without saying. I had already asked her before the tie against Australia, if she would be ok with it for the time while I don’t have anybody else, whether I could work with Dirk, whether that’d be problematic, what the others girls might say about it. Barbara said she will talk to them, not a problem, or I should talk to them. That’s what’s really great about the Fed Cup team, we are totally open with each other. I don’t know what they think to themselves (laughs), but everybody just said “Yeah, no problem at all.” And that was a big help for me, that he was in Doha with me, now that I’m lost.

The Fed Cup semifinal will be played in Sochi on clay. How do you like that?

I spoke with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday and she had already implied that it was going to be Sochi. I was really surprised, I was completely sure that we will play in Moscow. I don’t know why. I didn’t even think about other cities because I was so sure “Moscow, where else would they play?”. It’s a bit unfortunate for us because it’s another two hours further away and [the WTA tournament in] Stuttgart is right after it. But we are going to do it, no doubt. And luckily – that really relieves me – it is on clay, so we don’t have such a big change in Stuttgart. We’re gonna manage. It’s better than Australia. We’re slowly getting closer. (laughs)

There have been increased demands for a reform of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup. You can see with the men that barely any of the big stars are playing. Would you welcome change?

In general I always thought the format was ok. But I always though: Eight teams in the world group (in Fed Cup) is very small. We were in the final last year – and if we had lost to Australia we would playing to avoid relegation. That’s a little crazy. But what I also noticed because we were in the final for the first time: It’s really, really close to next year’s first round. And I had the feeling that we hadn’t processed the final yet. When I went out on the court and heard the national anthem last year’s final came back into my head. And yet we were back [on court] and had to fight for survival, to not be relegated. Barbara once said that she would like a world group with 14 teams and last year’s finalists get a first round BYE. I don’t know if that can be done, but I think that would be perfect and it sounded really, really reasonable when Barbara said it.

Without a doubt you are one of the more popular players on tour. It seems like almost all players like you and you seem to get along with almost everybody, too. Do you sometimes feel like the Roger Federer of women’s tennis?

Oh God, that’d be nice if I had half – no not even half, just one fifth of his successes! (laughs) I’d sign that in a heartbeat. But seriously: I have always been very uncomplicated. I grew up in a big family, always had many people, many children around me. I might have only one sister, but we are eight cousins. It was always obvious that we shared, that we try to achieve things together. And because of that I believe that, first of all, I really enojoy these team events. And second of all I don’t see a reason why, just because I want to beat someone on court, I have to be mean to them off the court.

Something many women on the WTA tour handle differently.

Everybody has to decide that for herself. I can differentiate that very well. I can give it my all on the court and I don’t even look to ther other side of the court. I don’t care who I am playing. I just play for myself, I desperately want to win. Even if I played someone who I really like, I can differentiate that, no matter if I won or lost. I’m really blessed with being able to differentiate that so well. If you can’t do that and you notice “I’m more nervous when I’m playing a friend”, then maybe you shouldn’t have friends on tour. It’s a professional sport where you have to make decisions like that.

Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza have recently – and they were not the first ones – denounced the lack of collegiality on tour. It seems like most players do their own thing and that there is a certain amount of cat fighting. Does that bother you too?

I have to say that because I get along with all of them pretty well – with Azarenka especially for example, we are very friendly with each other and chat during breakfast or whereever – I think that doesn’t affect me as much as it does others. I chat with everybody, with some I’m closer, with others not so close, but I’m ok with everybody, so it doesn’t concern me. Of course it’s a difficult sport. You have to be tough, you have to be able to take a lot on court, and that hardens you and makes you lonely. And I believe that goes hand in hand, because you then become harder and less sensitive yourself and try to seclude yourself. That affects the private life, too.

~

Translated by Katja

Tomasz Wiktorowski on Aga’s Transition, Fed Cup, and More

“It’s a difficult time for Agnieszka Radwańska because she has to try to play more offensively.”

From an interview by Hubert Zdankiewicz in the Polska Times.

Is this the end of Wiktorowski?

I think I’ve already answered this question.

There was a poll about it on one of the big tennis sites.  It’s a result of Robert Radwański’s words—he said after the match against Russia that the captain should be dismissed.  (See here.)

I can only say this: I can be dismissed either by the board of the Polish Tennis Federation or by my team.  At the moment, we’re preparing for the match against Switzerland.  After that, I will make a decision as to what’s next.

Neither the PTF nor the team think it’s necessary?

You’d have to ask them.  I can only add this: if anybody wants to make an assessment of my work as a team captain based on results, then that’s OK.  You have the right to do it.  I’d only ask you not to judge on one match but on the whole body of work— where the team was when we started and where it is now [before the loss to Russia, the team won seven consecutive matches and advanced from Group II Europe / Africa to the World Group – Editor].

All right, let’s try to look at the Russia match calmly, with a few days behind us [this conversation took place on Thursday – Editor].

My assessment is exactly the same as it was just after the match.  On the one hand, we are disappointed because we didn’t expect an easy victory but we did expect a closer match, for sure.  More fight.  On the other hand, you have to remember who we played against.  Everybody knows how strong Sharapova is, especially when she she plays as well as she has been recently.  We also know that Agnieszka’s chances against Kuznetsova were fifty-fifty, even if she’s a better player.  She’s always had problems playing against her; she had to fight to win. She beat her last year in Madrid after saving match points.  If you add a recovering-from-physical-problems Ula (Radwańska) to the mix, you know it was hard to be optimistic.  We had the venue and the Polish spectators on our side, though, so we expected more.

It’s a pity Agnieszka lost to Kuznetsova.

I agree.  If we had won this one point, the match could have gone either way. When Agnieszka went from 2-5 to 5-5 in the Sharapova match, I remembered the WTA Finals in Singapore [she was losing 1-5 and won the tiebreak – Editor].

I think Sharapova remembered it, too.  She started to play more passively, committed more unforced errors.

Maria is human and she has moments of weakness.  You can beat her, but she was brilliant in the last two games.  She played with no errors.  You can say that Agnieszka had her chances— but there is no “if” in sport.  The match is finished. We know the score and have to play on.

Is it possible to beat Switzerland in April and stay in the World Group?

Everybody is beatable.  It depends on their team selection.  I’m thinking of Martina Hingis, who plays only doubles matches recently but who has had very good results [she won the Australian Open in mixed doubles – Editor].  Then the last match, the one that’ll decide the result, could be really close.

But the singles will give us an advantage?

You could say that when you look at the rankings, but the rankings don’t play matches.  It’s not an enormous advantage, anyway.  If you take into account experience and form, then you can say that yes, we are the favourites—on paper.

We will play on a home court—another plus for us?

To be honest, home matches haven’t been very good for us recently; so, judging from the results only, I’m not so sure.  On the other hand, it’s always better to play for your own fans, no matter where the tournament is held.

It will be right after the Katowice tournament which is very fortunate, as you won’t have to leave the country.

For me, the only thing I don’t like about it is the fact that Agnieszka should have more of a break.  For example, if she wins in Katowice, she will have to play too many matches.  On the other hand, representing Poland has always been very important for her.

Contrary to what some people think.

You’re saying that, but it’s true.  Suffice it to say, she’s never refused to play in Fed Cup.  I remember she wasn’t supposed to go to Israel because of an injury and operation.  She went anyway because Ula couldn’t play.  She’s played all matches and she’ll play against Switzerland as well.  She’ll give a hundred percent.  We have had more intense periods of play in the past.

The World Group is the place for you to be?

We have to fight for it, so we’ll see in April.  Before I became the captain, Poland was in Group II Europe / Africa; you can’t fall lower than that.  But the Radwańska sisters started to play, we moved up, and got into the elite group.  So, maybe it is our place, even though we couldn’t win against Russia.  It doesn’t mean we can’t win the next time.  Ula will improve, for sure.  So will Agnieszka, because she’s in a transition period right now—a very difficult one.

Why is it a transition period – is it because Martina Navratilova has joined the team?

I wouldn’t call the collaboration with Martina a transition period—it could last for a very, very long time.  It’s a transition period because Agnieszka has to try to play more offensively.  As a consequence, we assumed a possible dip in form, because it means modifying a game style which she has been honing for years.

A game style which has gained her a lot of victories.

Correct.  That’s why nobody is talking about a revolution—it’s supposed to be an evolution, a modification.  For years, we have been saying that Agnieszka has to play more aggressively.  Now, we’ve decided that it’s time to do it.  She may play worse for a time, but it’ll allow us to reach our goals.  We know what they are—winning grand slams—and we know that in the course of seven matches, we can come up against an opponent who is in form and won’t send most of the balls out just because a player on the other side of the net is super solid.  There will always be someone you’ll have to beat, who won’t give you anything.  That’s what the training sessions with Martina are for.

Do you think there are enough of them?  After the Australian Open, she’ll join you in March, in Indian Wells.  There are tournaments in Dubai and Doha in the meantime.

The fact that she’s not here doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what’s going on.  We are in touch all the time, we send her films from our training sessions, and she sends back feedback, which we use during the following sessions.  It shows really well that Martina is very much involved in what she’s doing.

Too much sometimes – I mean the way she criticized Agnieszka in the Tennis Channel studio after her defeat in Melbourne.

She admitted she said too much, so let’s not go back to it.  Agnieszka thinks the same.

Do you?

I don’t want to comment on that.  But I have to, I gather?

You don’t have to do anything.  It’s just a question.

So, I won’t comment.  Agnieszka did and it’s enough.  I understand Martina’s intentions, though—a coach has to shake a player up sometimes.

Some think it’s high time to achieve the goals.  Serena Williams is closer to the end than to the beginning of her career, but Agnieszka will soon be 26. There’s a new generation of young players coming…

They are already here: Bouchard, Muguruza, Svitolina, Halep… There are a lot of players and soon we’ll have a generation change at the top.  It won’t be easy for Agnieszka to stay where she is, let alone to start winning slams.  That’s why we decided to change things.  We have to take risks because [simply] maintaining the level causes regression.

Does Agnieszka share your opinion?

I think it’s obvious.  We couldn’t possibly change anything without her consent. Agnieszka has a very strong personality.

Just like her father. Why does he dislike you so much?

You’d have to ask him.

I have. He says it’s because you were disloyal by signing a contract with Amica behind his back. He said it again in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza recently.

I didn’t read it, so I can’t really comment.  I’ll just say this: I don’t think I have ever been disloyal to him, so let’s give it a rest.

Are you annoyed by it?

No, I just do my job.  I think this whole situation could be uncomfortable for Agnieszka, especially when the media are involved.  It would be easier if she had support from all sides.

~

Translated by Joanna.   Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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Julia Goerges on Fed Cup and more

“I see many things differently now.”

From an interview by Heiko Hinrichsen in the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Congratulations, Ms. Goerges.  At the Australian Open, you were the most successful German tennis player.

“Yes, with the quarterfinal in Auckland and the Round of 16 in Melbourne, it’s the best start to a season of my career—it’s never gone this well before.  It’s a very nice start which I can build on.”

In doubles, you even reached the semifinals with Anna-Lena Grönefeld; then a flu virus stopped you.  How can that be, when it’s summer in Australia?

“Unfortunately, there was a virus going around Melbourne, despite the heat.  I got a fever the night before the semifinal.  The next day, on court, I just had nothing in me, so we had to stop after 0-6 in the first set.  That’s very annoying, obviously, but it can’t be changed.  But we played so well before that that I don’t think it will be our last Grand Slam semifinal.”

Now it’s time for team play again.  Do you enjoy playing Fed Cup?

“Definitely.  For me it’s an honor to play for my country, whether it’s at the Olympics or in Fed Cup.  That’s why I’m always there, because for me it’s something special.  As a tennis player, you don’t have many chances to represent your country as a team; so, I always look forward to the weeks with the other girls.  We’re a good squad.”

And what’s your role on the team?

“It’s important to integrate yourself into the team for the week.  It doesn’t matter what happened before that or what happens afterwards, because every one of us will be on her own again.  But in Fed Cup, we all have to work together.  The big ask is to always support every player who is on court 100%.  That means that sometimes you, personally, have to take a back seat.  I think I’m pretty good at being there for the others.  And I expect the same when I’m on court.  It’s give and take.”

Is the pressure higher during Fed Cup than it is during the regular WTA tour?

“During the regular season, there are always days when I’m more nervous than usual and some where I’m barely stressed.  But in Fed Cup, you’re always nervous.  There are so many people behind you.  Additionally, you feel it’s your duty to do your best for the team and you don’t want to disappoint the fans as well.  There’s quite a bit of nervousness.”

You will definitely play in doubles against Australia—probably with Sabine Lisicki.  Don’t you also have the ambition to play singles as well, where recently Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic were the front runners?

“Our team captain, Barbara Rittner, has to decide who plays in singles.  Of course, I want to do better on tour and move up the rankings that way.  But I don’t see the German players as Fed Cup competitors anyway.  Every one of us has contributed her part of the puzzle to the team’s performance and has led us to the level which we’ve now reached.  In general, you could claim that the world ranking isn’t quite as important as it was five years ago.  The many early exits of favorites showed that as well.”

But in the end the No.1, Serena Williams, won.

“Serena and Maria Sharapova certainly are among the exceptions.  Against these two, you can lose even with a very good performance.  But against many other players it’s like this: if I play well, then I have a very good chance.  The ranking is a number that, at the end of the day, says how many points I won on tour.  But it doesn’t say everything about the quality of the tennis.”

You suffered a severe wrist injury in Brussels in 2013, were injured for months, and crashed down the rankings after 16 first-round losses.  Did that change you?

“Indeed.  I see a lot of things differently now, especially in the last year when I lost a few close three-set matches.  If I had won those, I’d be Top 30 and not ranked 69th.  So, the ranking distorts a lot.  In any case, I’m playing better now than I did three years ago.”

But back then you were ranked 15th.

“My whole package of athleticism, consistency, and my repertoire of shots is a lot bigger now than it was back then, without any doubt.  It doesn’t show in my results because the depth of good players increased a lot in recent times.  But in general, I see everything much more relaxed now and I appreciate what I have.  At the end of the day, tennis is just a game.  You try your best, but if you lose, you lose.  Many don’t even get the chance to experience what I experience.”

In 2011 you won the Porsche Grand Prix, one of your two singles titles.  That should make Stuttgart a special place for you?

“It is, definitely.  The arena is a bit like my living room to me; it always brings back nice memories.  It’s not like we’re playing a tournament in Germany every week, so it feels particularly good to play in front of a home crowd.  Additionally, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix isn’t just any tournament, but one that the players have voted their favorite event in the world many times.”

Prague, where the Fed Cup final was lost 1-3 in November 2014, may elicit more negative memories.  Was the team not clever enough?

“The Czechs, of course, had much more experience than we did.  We were aware that they had been in a final before and had played in front of 11,000 spectators who wildly applauded every point they won.  We had never been there before.  In such an inferno [a German expression for a very loud, emotional stadium], many new factors play a role: there’s the mental pressure and the noise in the arena.  You feel inhibited on court and ask yourself: ‘How can I play like this?'”

But Czechs Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova didn’t make an impression of being unbeatable.

“I thought we definitely had a chance—we’d beaten them on tour before.  But of course, you mustn’t forget where we as the German team came from from and that the Czechs had won the Fed Cup three times in the last four years.  That shows their quality.  For us, it was a big success to be in the final.  We learned a lot in Prague.  Now we’re hoping to be in the final again one day—and to show that we can do even better.”

Is the life of a tennis pro, even without a Fed Cup title, a dream for you?

“For me, yes.  I wanted to be a pro from early on—even during a time when I didn’t know whether I was good enough for it.  It’s a difficult life because you’re always far away and have to travel a lot, which probably isn’t good for the body. But I certainly haven’t regretted it, because it’s a unique chance to fulfill my dream.”

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Translation by Katja.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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The end of Tomasz Wiktorowski as Polish Fed Cup coach?

After the Polish Fed Cup team’s loss to the Russians, some people are calling for a change of captains.  Robert Radwański also thinks Tomasz Wiktorowski , the present captain, should no longer coach his daughter Agnieszka.  

From an article by Hubert Zdankiewicz in Polska Times.

“Pleasant the beginnings, but lamentable the end…” (Polish parable)

The end of the season is far away—it has just begun.  But it’s impossible not to notice that Agnieszka Radwańska’s results so far are not what we expected.

She won the Hopman Cup—the unofficial world championships—with Jerzy Janowicz at the beginning of January.  And she did so in great style, beating Serena Williams, the world number one.  After that, things took a turn for the worse.  She lost her second round match against Garbiñe Muguruza in Sydney.  She didn’t do much better during the Australian Open, losing in the fourth round, beaten by Venus Williams.  Her new trainer-consultant, the famous Martina Navratilova, later had some harsh comments about her game in the Tennis Channel studio.

Last weekend, Radwańska lost her two Fed Cup matches.  In the second one, although she wasn’t really there in the first set, her chances were small, because Maria Sharapova was just too strong on Sunday.  However, she was criticized for her defeat in the match against Svetlana Kuznetsova.  And deservedly so, because you can’t blame everything on a court surface in Kraków Arena, even if it wasn’t exactly what the Polish players had expected—it was slower and suited the Russians more.

“After a match like that the team captain should be dismissed, as soon as the next day,” says Robert Radwański.  Agnieszka and Urszula’s father (and coach for many years) has been critical of Tomasz Wiktorowski, and about the results of his work with Agnieszka.  He points out that she has stopped developing and still hasn’t reached her main goal of  winning a Slam tournament.

“There were a lot of wasted opportunities these past two years.  It’s a pity she lost in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon [against Lisicki in 2013] and Australian Open [against Cibulkova in 2014].  You could call those results a success but I’m not a minimalist.  They were defeats.”

“I can be dismissed by the board of the Polish Tennis Federation or by my team,” Wiktorowski retorts.  He doesn’t want to talk about his primary duties this time. He only reminds people that Navratilova (who is not working with Radwańska the whole time) has been hired with the thought of winning a Slam tournament in mind.

A qualified Fed Cup captain isn’t easy to find

“If you consider a dismissal, you have to think about his replacement and there are not many candidates for the job.  Traditionally, a team captain is either an accomplished player—as with the Russians [Anastasija Myskina is a Roland Garros 2004 champion]—and we don’t have many of them, or a number one player’s coach.  Hence, Tom Wiktorowski,” explains Paweł Ostrowski, who coached Marta Domachowska, Alicja Rosolska, and Angelique Kerber, a German player with Polish roots.

Is Radwanska herself to blame?

According to Ostrowski, you have to consider all the pro and con arguments, because with any change you risk that things will get worse, not better. “We have taken a step back, results-wise.  Agnieszka had some low moments last year, namely at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open.  On the other hand, she did well at Indian Wells and Montreal, so it’s not that she’s playing horribly.  But it is obvious that—and I’m speaking from my own experience—sooner or later in a relationship between a coach and a player, a moment comes when you feel fatigue.  The player rests on her laurels; she’s content with what she has and the coach is not able to motivate her any further.  Radwańska should ask herself the question of what she wants—if she wants to stay where she is now or take a risk and fight to take it all?  Surprisingly, it’s not that obvious, because players know how wide a gap there is between number one and number six in the rankings. Getting to the top means enormous effort and pain, both physical and mental—look what’s happening with players who got there.  Caroline Wozniacki is no longer there and she still can’t bounce back.  It’s the same with Victoria Azarenka or Ana Ivanovic.  Dinara Safina retired from tennis.  Radwańska needs to be sure that she wants to take up the challenge.  If she does, then a new coach is a good idea. If she doesn’t, you can’t change a thing,” says Ostrowski.

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Translated by Joanna.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

If you would like to contribute a translation, please head to About Us to see how to do so.

Igor Vekić on his daughter Donna’s recent struggles

Comments by Donna Vekić’s father Igor, after she lost in the Thailand Open first round, on the difficult times she’s had of late.  Quoted in “Donna hasn’t tasted the sweetness of the second round for five months” by Anton Filić of Croatian newspaper Večernji List.

“Certainly, that’s not a result we can be satisfied with—Donna herself isn’t satisfied.  But every match is a different story.  After the Fed Cup in Budapest, she’d traveled a long way and didn’t manage to adapt.  And the conditions are difficult in Thailand.”

On her 1-6 1-6 loss to Aleksandra Krunić in Fed Cup:

“Donna missed seven game points.  I can’t say she would have won if she’d taken advantage of one of those chances, but she played a high quality match.  Donna’s simply going through a period every young sportsman or sportswoman goes through.  It’s unrealistic to expect the results to always be improving; down periods are normal.  But she’s surrounded by top experts—above all, her coaches John Evert and Iva Majoli—and they’ll surely know the best way to help her.  It’s unnecessary to put added pressure on Donna by talking about her poor results.”

Donna won’t play until Indian Wells, but will spend time at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida (where Ivanišević and Čilić will also be training) to prepare for that tournament.

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Translated by Mark with an assist from Ana.

Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.