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.

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