Interview with WTA Rising Star, Magda Linette

Original article: http://www.przegladsportowy.pl/tenis,magda-linette-nominowana-w-turnieju-wta-rising-stars,artykul,604497,1,289.html

Andrzej Soboń: You have been nominated for the WTA Rising Stars event that will be played alongside the WTA Finals in Singapore – is it a big honour in your opinion? How do you like your chances in the voting?

Magda Linette: I knew what nominations were about and I was really glad when I got an email from WTA. I remember a situation from a year ago when I was training with a player who took part in it. It’s an opportunity to see the WTA Finals from the inside. This competition is only a small part of it but it would be a great adventure! I know that Bojana Jovanovski or Caroline Garcia are ahead of me when it comes to success and they’re more popular than me. I’m happy about having been nominated. I’m secretly counting on the possibility that I’ve been able to gain at least a little of fans’ support and that’s enough for the second place which will give me the entry.

If you take a look back at your match against Agnieszka Radwańska at the US Open, would you change something in your game?

I’d play more calmly at the beginning. Now, thanks to experience, I’d know what to expect. I’d be more relaxed coming out on the court, more regular. I wouldn’t give away so many free points, especially at the beginning. Tactics would be similar, it wasn’t bad. I had too many unforced errors. Maybe I could have played more offensively but I got pushed back and gave her chances to play deep and high balls. I could have gone to the net in a couple of key points, play aggressively. Yes, I’d work on that.

Your first match in the second round in a major tournament made you more nervous than usual?

I don’t think so… I was just nervous before a match against Agnieszka. We had a bigger court in round two, I also knew that more people would be watching it. The fact that it was the second round didn’t hinder me, on the contrary, it helped me – I could be calmer because of the money. I earned more, so I knew it would be easier to work during the second part of the season. I gained more points so I won’t have to worry about defending my points from the previews season.

You had your leg wrapped at the US Open. Was it a serious injury?

I had a pulled muscle but that bandage hindered me in the first match so I didn’t put it back on. It’s all right now, fingers crossed. I hope I won’t see more plasters or bandages because I’ve had enough of them lately!

You said you’re focusing on your serve. How’s the training going?

We started working on it not that long ago. I had had some shoulder problems, I had to get stronger. My frame is not too imposing, we had to work hard to straighten it up, to make me stronger so that I could train properly. Before we managed that, when I’d served an hour or more, I had my arm bandaged for a week or two after. The workload was too big. We are beginning to work harder on my serve just now and there’s still a lot to do. We want to make it more effective and sustain it over a lot of matches. Of course, that’s not the only thing we’re working on but we want to visibly improve this element.

You are a bit on the sidelines of the Polish team, you haven’t been a part of the Polish Fed Cup team for some time. What’s your relationship with Agnieszka and her team?

I think that this recent Fed Cup team was really Radwańskas’ team which is still functioning. I just didn’t feel I belonged there. I practise in Croatia, I have Croatian coaches that aren’t on good terms with Polish coaches. But my relationship with both sisters is quite good. We’re not friends but we chat nicely, we joke. And not being in the centre of it all helps. Gives me more peace.

You have a new Fed Cup captain. Do you think he will be more inclined to make you a part of the team than Tomasz Wiktorowski?

To be honest, I hope so. The Olympic Games in Rio are not far and I’d love to play there. But there are rules, you have to participate in Fed Cup in order to qualify to the Olympics. Even if I’m eligible because of my WTA ranking position, I won’t meet the requirements and I won’t qualify. Playing at the Olympics is my dream. It’s amazing, it’s only held once in four years. It would be incredible to be a part of not only the show, but also history. I know I have to earn my place in the team. Before the Fed Cup matches, Ula Radwańska had better results than me. I have always tried to play as well as I can. I couldn’t have had more say on the selection process than that.

What are your plans for the upcoming weeks?

I’ll be in Asia til the end of the year. I did quite well last year, in Ningbo for example. I’ll be playing WTA tournaments now, we will see how I will perform in first five events. If I get enough points to qualify for the main Australian Open draw, I will probably play only those five or six. If my results are not good enough to realize this goal, then I’ll enter some minor WTA and ITF tournaments.

Do you like the Asian atmosphere more than European or the one in the USA?

I like Asia, it seems to me that my game matches well against players here. I like places that are a bit on the outside, there’s less pressure. I’m not used to being surrounded by many people. It’s probably a key factor, it’s difficult for me to hold my concentration in places like courts at the US Open. But when it comes to climate, Asia is more difficult. I like competition, it gives me more energy. I like bigger challenges. Sometimes we laugh with my coach that the more difficult the conditions, the better it is for me!

Does the Asian climate and culture appeal to you? Do you like the lifestyle there?

People in Asia are very nice and helpful. Even if they don’t speak English, which happens a lot in China, they smile a lot and you get it when they say “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”  They are very nice, they don’t get angry when you want something from them. They do it in a really nice way and I can’t even get irritated. I’ve been preparing for the season here and I’ll probably do the same before the next one. I spend a lot of time here. I got to like Chinese food but you have to know where to go. When you are with people who live here and who know where to go and what to order, then it’s a nice change for us, Europeans. Asian dishes are incomparable to what we can get in Europe or in the USA. It’s also not very expensive here, even in best hotels. And the standard is very good.

Do you try to find some time to get to know these places during your preparation?

We are really trying! I’ve been hoping to see Tokyo but it’s raining all the time. One of my coaches really likes sightseeing so if I’m not too tired after practice, we try to go somewhere. We managed to see a lot in Hong Kong. We’ll be in Beijing soon, so I hope to go a bit farther and see the Great Wall because I didn’t do it last year and I regret it a lot. I also like karaoke here despite the fact that I can’t sing at all.

Do you try to sing in Chinese?

No, they’re English songs! You can really have a great time here but you have to be willing to learn about the culture and the people.

~

Translation: https://twitter.com/jesna3

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Jerzy Janowicz talks Davis Cup, journalists, and Darren Cahill

Original source: http://sport.se.pl/inne-sporty/tenis/jerzy-janowicz-dziennikarze-tworza-fikcje-na-moj-temat_646978.html

Super Express: The joy of winning that final point against Stakhovsky was bigger than after winning an ATP tournament?

This is a special tournament, you get into a kind of trance. Also because we don’t play only  for ourselves but also for the country. There’s more adrenaline than usual, hence my excitement and joy.

This victory allowed you to forget about Wimbledon? 

There was no need, I forgot Wimbledon very quickly.

After the first match against Dolgopolov on Friday, many reproached you for snubbing the press – you answered their questions very sparingly.

My answers were short because sometimes I feel that journalists write about me what they want, so there’s no point in making long answers. No matter what I say, they make up stories about me.

But not everybody is unreliable?

No, not everybody. There are fair journalists who write the truth.

Your performance at Wimbledon will be remembered by many not because of how you did on the court but because you asked one of  the Polish journalists to leave the presser room…

Did anything extraordinary happen at that presser? I asked a journalist, politely, to leave the room. I’ve known him for 10 years, I know how he works, what he says about me and how it goes against me. What was written about that presser later was pure fiction. It so happens that I’ve been recording my pressers so that I can listen to them later. We can replay it – they are recorded by Wimbledon organizers – and everybody can listen for themselves. The media reported that I said that fans had bothered me, that I blamed them for the loss – that’s absurd, a story made up by journalists. I was asked who was yelling at me during my serve and I said – some Pole. Some of the journalists fabricated a story that fans had bothered me and I was blaming them.  Maybe that’s why it’s better to answer in two words because the longer I speak, the worse it gets for me and they will still add words that I didn’t use.

Why have you decided to work with Darren Cahill?

I’m sponsored by Adidas and Mr. Cahill works with them, that’s how we got in touch, discussed some details and I’m glad he’ll be in my team of consultants.

How about your plans now? Are you thinking about the US Open?

It’s way too early to be thinking about it, every tournament is important and all points count towards the rankings. I’m leaving for the Bastad tournament today.

~

Translation by @jesna3

We are not robots: interview with Jerzy Janowicz

Original source:  http://www.sport.pl/tenis/1,64987,17841694,Tenis__Janowicz__Nie_jestesmy_robotami_zaprogramowanymi.html

“We are not robots, programmed to win.”

There’s a saying ‘What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.’ Is that’s how you look at injuries? After another foot problem or – as it happened a year and a half ago and recently – with your spine, do you come back on a court mentally stronger?

I think that when it comes to injuries you can’t say they make you mentally stronger. It’s very frustrating because when an athlete in is in good shape and an injury happens you have to start from scratch. If it’s a prolonged injury, a return to good form can take many weeks. That’s what happened to me, when I had a serious spine injury a year and a half ago  and when I came back, my foot got injured. I couldn’t prepare for the following season and the effects of it affected my whole 2014 season.

In recent years players and experts have noticed an increasing dominance of hard courts on WTA and ATP tours. Some prefer more surface diversity and say that cement puts more demand on the body and because of that causes more injuries. Others believe that a body gets used to a surface and it’s healthier to change it less frequently. What’s your opinion?

To be honest, I prefer diversity. It’s not a problem for me to play on a clay, hard or grass court. What matters to me is if it’s outdoors or indoors. I would like to see more indoor tournaments. Indoor and hard courts – they’re my favourite tournaments.

Do you put great importance to Madrid and Rome or rather – because you’re coming back from an injury – treat them as preparation before Roland Garros? Or maybe do you want the clay season to finish as quickly as possible and can’t wait for the grass season?

All tournaments are equally important to me. Madrid and Rome are very prestigious, with a lot of points to gain, and that’s necessary if you want to advance in the rankings. Of course I’m excited about the grass season, especially that we’ve got one more grass tournament this year– Stuttgart. So the grass season will be a bit longer.

In general, players prefer to play against high-ranked opponents as late as possible. Your mum told me once that you prefer to fight more demanding opponents straight away. Does it help you with motivation?

First rounds of every tournament are difficult, no matter who you have to face. But it’s true, I prefer to play against better opponents. You play on a bigger court, in front of a bigger crowd and stronger support. And I like this kind of atmosphere. It mobilizes me more. But I treat every opponent in the same way and take every match seriously.

Are you superstitious? Some say there is a ‘Hopman Cup curse’. You and Agnieszka Radwańska started the year with a success in that event but right after that she started to have problems with her form. In February you reached a final in Montpelier but had to withdraw from the match because of an illness. Not everything has been to your liking since then…

I don’t believe in superstitions. My bad form in Montpelier was a coincidence, it was an infection that hit me really hard. It could have happened in any place, at any time. As for Agnieszka, she’s been a top player for many years. Maybe she’s going through a rough patch now but it can happen to anybody. We are human, we’re not robots programmed to win. Agnieszka is a very experienced player and she will deal with her problems. It’s a long time to the end of the season.

She has been saying recently that you can’t look at your opponent’s ranking position only, because it’s usually lower than it should be and doesn’t reflect a player’s skills. Do you share this opinion? How important for you is your ranking position?

To be honest, I don’t make any ranking plans before a season starts. I want to win matches and advance in the rankings but I don’t aim for top 20 this year and top ten next year. It will be great if I’m in the top 20 but I won’t despair if it doesn’t happen. Of course, your position in the rankings is important, it allows you to play in a given tournament. But rankings don’t play matches and they don’t determine that a player from the second hundred can’t win with a top 20 player. Life shows that it happens very often. It’s a rivalry and everybody wants to win when they step on a court.

A couple of months ago you were a guest in Turbokozak and got to show your football skills. Are you a football fan? Do you support any particular team? Or maybe you prefer volleyball –  because of your mum, a volleyball player, or your ties with Skra Bełchatów players?

I’m not a football fan and I don’t support any team but I enjoyed being in Turbokozak. I prefer volleyball and I go to see matches if I can. I friendly with Marcin Wlazły. I had an opportunity to play volleyball in a charity match in Częstochowa and I think I did pretty well. I like watching sports, especially with Polish players.

Wiktorowski talks Radwanska, technique, and surface slow-downs

Original source: http://www.sport.pl/tenis/1,64987,17755508,Trener_Radwanskiej__Najgorsze__co_mozna_zrobic__to.html

Jakub Ciastoń: It seemed that in a small tournament in Katowice, in front of her own audience, Agnieszka would try to rebuild her form and confidence in this season, but the semifinal she lost to Camila Giorgi brought us all to earth. What’s happening to Agnieszka?

Tomasz Wiktorowski: For the last four years we were all happy and sometimes on cloud nine because Agnieszka played really great but now we have to put our feet on the ground, very firmly, because things don’t come easy now. But nobody is giving up. Nevertheless, I’m tired of questions posed in such a way, of having to analyze each match in isolation, each and every week. If you disregard the first couple of games in the first set, the match against Giorgi was definitely not good. The fact that the Italian lost the final proves that she was beatable. She played under greater pressure in the final because she was the favourite, but for us it’s not an excuse. Nothing fundamental has changed for Agnieszka this week so I don’t even pick up the phone because I have nothing new to say. We are working on improvements but we need time, patience, solidity and support.

This is the weakest start of the season in Agnieszka’s career. She lost a similar match against Heather Watson in Indian Wells. She was able to deal with aggressive opponents like Watson and Giorgi in the past, it’s Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova that were problematic.

But times have changed. We can’t analyze Agnieszka’s tennis in isolation from what’s happening. Today, there are several players that play like Williams or Sharapova and tens of those who are a bit weaker. The level is higher, we have young guns like Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys, Pliskova or Elina Svitolina, players like Simona Halep, Lucie Safarova, Ekaterina Makarova or Carla Suarez Navarro have been playing better. Malcontents will always complain that the level of women’s tennis is low but if they stop pointlessly comparing it to the men’s tennis, they will see something else. We notice changes and we have to adapt.

So we have to accept that Agnieszka’s level will inevitably decline?

A change of guard will happen, slowly. Agnieszka is not one of the youngest players at the top. In 2007 a teen Agnieszka beat Martina Hingis. Did the Swiss despair after the match? Did she retire? No, she continued to play and tried to change something. Agnieszka has to adapt too because she will not have a chance to win with newcomers by playing her old, defensive tennis.
If Agnieszka doesn’t modify her style a bit, it will be harder and harder, with time, because physically she works 30-40% more than her opponents during matches, she runs 1-2 km more. Tennis based on running will have to be limited as years pass. That’s why conditioning is so important, Agnieszka pays a lot of attention to it, but at some point she won’t be able to cheat time.

That’s why you talked about a necessary revolution in Agnieszka’s game – moving forward, better serve, return, taking the initiative. Sometimes we can see the effects, but not in matches against Watson or Giorgi.

I watch Agnieszka, I can see that she’s torn between continuing what she’s been doing for 20 years and trying a more aggressive tennis. When she employs new elements, plays aggressively, closer to the lines, takes risk with the return, I can see that she can do it, very effectively. But moments like these are still too scarce. In difficult moments she moves back. We have been working on these things for three, four months though, it’s not enough. You have to regenerate during a tournament, travel in-between, rest, there wasn’t much work on a court. But don’t ask me how much time we need, I don’t know that myself.

Nobody speaks much about Agnieszka’s technique which also forms a kind of a barrier?

It’s much more difficult for Agnieszka to play offensive tennis because she can’t generate lots of power in her shots. She doesn’t use the twist of the shoulder girdle and leg well enough. She learnt to play on super-fast surfaces where the ball accelerated very quickly and it was sufficient just to put the racket on the ball. This sequence of movements is encoded now and very difficult to modify. It’s not helpful against aggressive opponents on slower courts. In the last five years all surfaces have slowed down, even the grass at Wimbledon, which is hard to believe. The British use a different mix now which slows the ball after the bounce, on purpose.

Agnieszka can’t grow any taller but she can develop stronger muscles, and recently she’s lost some weight, too much even.

It is a problem… We talk with Agnieszka about it all the time. That’s all I can say.

Every tennis player goes through a crisis. Woźniacka, Azarenka, Kerber, even Sharapova, they dropped out of the top ten, then came back. Will Agnieszka manage as well?

We can’t judge her whole though that Wimbledon final. There are better and worse moments in everybody’s life, Agnieszka is going through a worse phase now but it’s normal in tennis. I can name 20 players whose careers were rocked by bigger shocks. If we analyze it closely, it’ll turn out that compared to them Agnieszka is dealing with it really well. The worst thing to do is to sit and cry. Agnieszka is not doing that, she’s focused on the future.

Martina Navratilova also believes that this revolution will be successful?

We all believe that.

Are you still working with Martina?

She will be with us at Roland Garros, maybe also before Madrid. We will work together until Wimbledon, then we’ll see, what’s next.

~

Translation by @jesna3

Tomasz Wiktorowski: “The revolution must continue.”

Original source:  http://www.sport.pl/celebrities/1%2c83535%2c17520373%2cTenis__Rewolucja_u_Radwanskiej_musi_trwac.html#indeks_news

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

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.

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Translated by Joanna.   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.