Agnieszka Radwanska made her big return to the court in Eastbourne and even surprised herself as she comprehensively bested Hungary’s Timea Babos in straight sets 6-3, 6-1, in a match where virtually every aspect of the Pole’s game seemed to be working for her.
The last two seasons have been particularly difficult for the player that once held the position of No.2 in the rankings and was just one Wimbledon final win away from being at the top of the rankings for the first time in her career, but Radwanska has since had to battle with injury and contend with not being able to play to her full capabilities on the court. The lack of match-wins and struggles with health has subsequently led to Radwanska falling dramatically in the world rankings. At Hong Kong last year, Radwanska left the World’s Top 20 for the first time since 2008, which further illustrates her unbelievable consistency on tour, despite not having the power or the overwhelming weapons that some of her rivals possess. Radwanska was renowned for her ability to win points in different ways and to come through big matches purely down to her court craft from the back of the court.
Radwanska, who made her only major final at Wimbledon in 2012, is now down at No.31 in the rankings, which is the lowest she has been in eleven years, but the Pole is hoping that those dark days are behind her as she looks forward to not only producing a positive grass court season, but also returning to playing the elegant tennis that she produced when she was at her best.
“Well, those two months went like two weeks. It was so quick (smiling). Yeah, killed me, that’s for sure this year. Struggling in the beginning and couldn’t get back and had to miss the Grand Slam. That was always disappointing to miss a Grand Slam. But sometimes we need to listen to your body first, and I guess that works good for me. You know, not pushing too much. And I have been playing too early so many times, and I already had my lessons couple times last year, as well.”
“Sometimes it’s good to, you know, do the step back and start from the beginning. You know, now I’m feeling good, healthy, fresh. Of course match rhythm is always something that you need to have after a couple of matches, but playing today like this, I didn’t really feel that I miss whole clay court season and didn’t play a match last two months. So I guess that’s good.”
“Yeah, well, like I was saying, maybe few years ago I’ll play French Open because, you know, I didn’t want to miss and let’s play even when I’m not 100%. But I think I’m not in that stage anymore, and I would just rather, you know, miss something and then be healthy and trying to do something big later.”
Skipping the clay-court season altogether may seem like a very positive move for Radwanska, who recognises that she plays her more consistent and effective tennis on the hard and grass courts. The Pole has now started listening to her body and understands when she needs to step away from the sport to let her body recover and recuperate. Now at the age of 29, Radwanska is one of the veterans on tour and is now using that experience of going through those long-term injuries to hopefully acknowledge what she can and can’t do, which is something that comes with trial and error. This is something that Dominika Cibulkova has spoken up about recently as she reaches the latter stages of her career and it looks like it is an approach that Radwanska has decided to undertake too.
Radwanska referred to this comeback as turning over a new page as she tries to take a different approach and restart her career following a difficult 2017 season.
“Well, I think it’s kind of like a new start, especially on the grass. I wish that the grass court season would be a little bit longer than those few weeks. I think at this stage I really have to think about the schedule, you know, to feel healthy and good and physically and mentally. Yeah, and just not really putting that much pressure on myself and still trying.”