13 years ago, Agnieszka Radwanska started her career and evolved into a pioneer of a golden generation in Polish Tennis and now she exits the game having left a memorable legacy.
Today is quite a sad day for many Polish tennis fans including myself who have watched Agnieszka Radwanska’s brilliant career evolve over the last 13 years. A talented player with many trick shots, a tonne of personality and some incredible achievements.
The Krakow-born star reached a grand slam final in 2012, where she forced the greatest player of all time to three sets at Wimbledon, a place that Serena Williams has made her second home. The 29 year old also won 20 WTA titles including a landmark title in Beijing as well as winning the biggest title of her career in Singapore at the WTA Finals in 2015.
A career high of world number two in 2012 consolidated what most fans knew, which was that she was a unique once in a lifetime player that fulfilled her potential. Even though injuries prevented her reaching further in the women’s game there was no doubting her achievements on the court.
The Polish Generation.
Despite all these achievements, nothing will top what Radwanska has done in becoming a pioneer for Polish tennis and the success that may follow in the years to come.
The obvious example to her legacy is what Jerzy Janowicz was able to achieve at Wimbledon in 2013. The tall Pole was able to reach the semi-finals at SW19 in a historic event that saw Poland’s first men’s singles success since Wojciech Fibak. Although even he couldn’t reach a grand slam singles semi-final.
In the quarter-finals that year he competed in an all-Polish last eight match with Lukasz Kubot in a match that will never be forgotten.
Now the Radwanska link is that her success coinciding with Janowicz’s was a remarkable feat for Polish tennis that had the whole country invested in the sport.
Poland is a small nation in the tennis world and to see two singles successes in grand slams was pretty remarkable and set a standard in what was to come.
Although Radwanska couldn’t achieve grand slam success, a Polish grand slam winner would eventually evolve in Lukasz Kubot. The 36 year old has won two grand slams with two different partners and became the first Polish grand slam champion since Fibak. Not bad for a country of 35 million people.
There are also solid successes of Marcin Matkowski, Magda Linette, Alicja Rosolska as well as Michal Przysiezny, who is a former top 50 player and a big influence in Caroline Wozniacki’s recent Australian Open success.
Hopman Cup Success
Another achievement in Radwanska’s successful career was the Hopman Cup triumph in Perth with Jerzy Janowicz in what was a fun week.
Surprisingly it was Radwanska who took charge in that relationship and won a very emotional title in Perth, a week which signified how lucky Polish tennis was with this ongoing golden generation.
A title which will arguably be in the hearts of many Polish fans and is much more significant than people may assume.
The Legacy Continued: Fed Cup and Davis Cup.
Although Radwanska had lead a golden generation in Polish tennis, there were still doubts whether this could be replicated in Fed Cup and Davis Cup.
Well those doubts were silenced when the Fed Cup team reached the World Group for the first time in their history. A magnificent achievement and a historic won even if they were eliminated by a Maria Sharapova-led Russia.
The Davis Cup team somehow equalled Radwanska’s Fed Cup team as they reached the World Group for the first time in their history. Caroline Wozniacki’s hitting partner, Michal Przysiezny sealed the winning rubber against Slovakia which had clearly shown how deep the talent was amongst the Polish players.
Away From The Legacy: The Turmoil Balanced With Personal Joy
Despite the legacy she had lead, the struggle was real on the tour for Radwanska as she started to develop injuries which prevented further progress.
This mental and physical turmoil unfortunately prevented her success in winning a grand slam and will probably go down as one of the best players never to win a grand slam.
After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2012 she only managed to reach a grand slam quarter-final seven times. Although the Pole was still capable of stunning upsets such as the one she pulled on Simona Halep in Miami this year.
This was of course managed by personal joy after getting married last year to Poland’s current Fed Cup captain, David Celt.
A tribute to a wonderful career
To put Aga’s career in perspective and how loved she was in her long and successful career, here is a tribute to her career by Radwanska herself.
Dear Friends, I’d like to share one of the most important decisions of my life. Special thanks to those with me through thick & thin: my parents, my sister and my best team: David, Tom, Krzysztof, Jason, my sponsors and partners – I am always thankful for what you’ve done for me. pic.twitter.com/Be1yvY4SUR
— Aga Radwanska (@ARadwanska) November 14, 2018
Here is also reaction from other players just to show how loved Radwanska really is:
Congrats on your amazing career Aga! I will definitely miss watching you play! Enjoy life & I hope to see you soon again!
— Kristina Mladenovic (@KikiMladenovic) November 14, 2018
The Future: Hotel Ventures and Polish Talent.
Its not all bad news for Radwanska fans as she is continuing her legacy through her own hotel in Krakow, where she was born. For each room in the hotel she has a memory from each of her big trophy wins including Singapore and Beijing.
You can now book an apartment in Aga Radwańska's own hotel in Kraków!! 🏩
"AGA Tenis Apartments by Radwańska"
The apartments are dedicated to Aga's biggest successes in career like Singapore, Wimbledon, Beijing. The rooms are full of original gadgets and a personal souvenirs ❤️ pic.twitter.com/O8roXRL47l
— Love, Michał 💖 (@michal1497) October 7, 2018
As for the legacy that Radwanska started it will continue into another generation of Polish tennis as Hubert Hurkacz and Kamil Majchrzak lead Male hopes in Poland. In-fact Hurkacz is now in the top 100 in the world and recently competed at the Next Gen Finals, a season that he will remember for a long time.
The women also have a bright future with Iga Swiatek winning the Wimbledon juniors title this year as she keeps tearing it up on the futures tour. While Maja Chwalinska is slowly looking to join Swiatek as the future of Polish tennis.
Do Widzenia Radwanska
So in summary, the pioneer of a golden generation of Polish tennis players has retired, in what will be an emotional day for Polish tennis fans. Her legacy will be felt for a long time to come as Polish tennis continues to evolve. With the loss of Radwanska and potentially Janowicz it feels like the early stage of Polish tennis has finished in its chapter.
Congratulations on an amazing career to Aga as she now looks to live a healthy life outside of a tennis court. A nation will always be grateful for Aga’s long-lasting legacy and achievements on the court.
So as emotional as it sound, thank you for all that you have given Polish tennis Agnieszka Radwanska and as we say in Poland: Powodzenia an Do Widzenia (Good Luck and Goodbye).
Simona Halep Sheds Light On Potential New Coach To Replace Darren Cahill
The world No.1 has been spotted with a Belgian mentor at the Australian Open, who recently halted his partnership with another player on the ATP Tour.
Simona Halep has confirmed that she is ‘talking’ with a Thierry Van Cleemput about the possibility of him joining her team in the future.
The two were spotted together at Melbourne Park on Monday whilst Halep was warming up for her match against Serena Williams, which she lost in three sets. Cleemput was also present at her fourth round match and sat a row behind her player’s box. Halep is currently without a coach after she split with Darren Cahill during the off-season. Cahill announced a 12-month break from coaching in order to spend more time with his family.
“We are talking, but he is not my coach officially, so we will see.” Halep said during her press conference.
Van Cleemput has worked as a coach since 1993 and has guided some of the best male players in his home country. Spending stints with Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis. He was also the assistant team captain of the Belgian Davis Cup team between 2002-2005. Up until last week Cleemput had been working with David Goffin, but they have separated on ‘mutual grounds.’ A decision Halep has stated that she had no impact on.
“I have nothing to do with their split. I like him as a coach. I like him as a person.” She said.
“We haven’t decided anything yet. We just have to know each other better. We are just talking.”
Halep confirmed that she spoke with Cleemput after he had split with Goffin. Although she remained coy when asked if she was the one who approached him first.
Reflecting back on her Australian Open campaign, the world No.1 says she is contempt with her performance. Prior to her loss to Williams, she scored wins over Kaia Kanepi, Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Prior to Melbourne, she hadn’t won a match since August after ending her 2018 season early due to a back injury.
“I haven’t been prepared for the highest level in tennis, but I did not play bad, so I’m happy about the way that it’s been going this tournament, and I take only the positives.” She said. “I had great matches. I had the toughest draw, but it was nice.”
As a result of her loss, Halep faces the possibility of losing her No.1 ranking next week. She has held the top spot since February 2018.
“I will not stress myself about this. I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis. I am also curious who is going to win (the Australian Open).” She concluded about the situation.
Karolina Pliskova Thrashes Muguruza To Reach Australian Open Quarters
Karolina Pliskova has continued her unbeaten start to 2019 with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1, win over two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open.
The Czech seventh seed recovered from a tentative start to the match to dominate proceeding on the Margaret Court Arena. In what was a battle of former world No.1 players, Pliskova produced a near-perfect performance. Hitting just three unforced errors during the 60-minute clash, compared to Muguruza’s tally of 20. Furthermore, she converted five out of her seven break point opportunities and blasted 23 winners past the Spaniard.
“I feel better with every match that I play here. It’s my first time on Margaret Court (this year) and I’m happy I got the win.” Pliskova said afterwards.
“I think I played well. Obviously the first set was important. We had some very close games. At the beginning we were both a bit nervous. It’s a bit windy, so the conditions are a bit tricky sometimes.”
It was the conditions that proved to be too problematic for Muguruza, who hasn’t won four consecutive matches on the tour for eight months. Since winning the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Muguruza has only managed to reach the last eight of a major in one out of six attempts (French Open 2018).
“It was a very tough match. I was expecting it.” Muguruza said in her press conference. “Pliskova, you have to put a lot of intensity with her. She makes you be on every single ball. I struggled a little bit with the heat or the conditions. I don’t know. I felt it was a little bit heavy today.”
Pliskova now finds herself on a nine-match winning streak following her triumph at the Brisbane International earlier in the month. Her longest winning streak since May. During the off-season, she added Conchita Martinez to her team. A former Australian Open finalist back in 1998, who had previously worked alongside Muguruza on the tour. Also included in Pliskova’s team is former doubles specialist Rennae Stubbs.
“A lot of positive things.” Pliskova replied when asked what Martinez brings. “So far everything is working. I cannot be happier to have this team by me and everything is working well.”
Set to play in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the third consecutive year in a row, the 26-year-old faces a potentially tricky task. Awaiting her will be either top seed Simona Halep or 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. Two players who she has a losing head-to-head record against.
“I know both of them. I have played both of them already. It is going to be definitely tough.” She previewed.
“Simona is world No.1 and it is always tough to play her. And Serena I think she is in great shape this tournament. So we will see.”
Pliskova is bidding to reach the last four of a grand slam for only the third time in her career this week.
‘Proud’ Coach Bajin Hails Naomi Osaka’s Run To Australian Open Quarter-Finals
Sasha Bajin speaks out about his work with the world No.4.
Naomi Osaka’s fight back against Anastasija Sevastova in the fourth round of the Australian Open was ‘beautiful to see,’ according to her coach Sascha Bajin.
The US Open champion was forced to come back from a set down to prevail 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, against the Latvian. Doing so for the second match in a row at Melbourne Park. It was a far from straightforward clash for the Japanese No.1, who produced 51 winners and 43 unforced errors. During the decider, she lost a 3-1 advantage as Sevastova fought back to level 3-3. Nevertheless, Osaka went on to break once again to seal the win. Moving into the last eight in Melbourne for the first time in her career.
“I think the biggest thing for me is the belief. I think I believe in myself more this year than I have last year.” Osaka explained about her latest comeback.
“Technically I’m supposed to be good at starting matches. I think I have a pretty good record winning the first set and then winning the match.
“I just feel like I have played two really great players over the past few days, and I just have to adjust to that feeling of being overwhelmed a little bit.”
Despite the slow start to her recent matches, Bajin believes there is a lot of positives to be drawn from it. The 34-year-old has worked with Osaka since December 2017 and has overseen her rapid rise on the tour. German-born Bajin was once a promising junior tennis player himself, but stepped away from the sport shortly after the death of his father and coach in a car accident. At the end of 2018, he was named WTA Coach of the year.
“Coming off of the last two matches where she lost the first set, seeing how she’s able to the problem on the court and comes back and wins it is beautiful to see.” Bajin told reporters in Melbourne.
“It shows maturity, and shows that she’s come a long way. She’s getting her emotions better under control. And overall just very proud of how she’s handled this tournament so far.”
Closing in on becoming the first ever player from Japan – man or women – to break into the top three in the world rankings, Osaka is known for sometimes being overly critical of her performance. Earlier this year at the Brisbane International, she said she had the ‘worst attitude’ during her loss in the semi-finals. Even Bajin admits that the world No.4 can be a bit brutal on herself, but he doesn’t see that as a negative in any way.
“I don’t have to talk her down. I just have to tell her grass is green, water flows, and everything is all right sometimes.” He said.
“Overall, she’s very hard on herself. She has very high expectations. She wants to do well. She wants to get better. That’s a good thing. I would not want to have it the other way. So if I have to choose, I will pick that.”
The next test for Osaka comes in the form of Elina Svitolina, who won the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. Svitolina also endured a tough fourth round encounter against Madison Keys. Overcoming a second set blip to prevail 6-2, 1-6, 6-1. It is the second consecutive year she has reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. A milestone she is yet to achieve at any other grand slam.
“I Know she played well at the end of the year, she won the WTA Finals. Personally, I was really happy for her, because I know that everyone was sort of writing her off, because she wasn’t doing well leading up to that.” Osaka commented about her upcoming rival.
“I have played her multiple times now, and I know she’s a very consistent player and when she has the chance she does like to attack. I think playing she is going to be very difficult for me.”
The quarter-final match will be the sixth meeting between the two players. Osaka currently trails 2-3 in their head-to-head, and lost in both of their encounters during 2018.
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