Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 Dubai champion, exited the tournament on Wednesday night to 17-year-old Cici Bellis but not before she sat down with Sport360 for a reflective chat about life on tour, her early days on the circuit, her post-retirement plans, and more.
Aga, you’ve been on tour for 11 years, do you ever get bored of the grind?
Of course I think for everyone it’s like that. It’s a bit too much. We’re tired, we’re traveling to the same places, especially when you’re playing so much. After so many years on tour, it’s always you get to the point where you feel it’s too much. But then I think you just have to wait it out until it’s good. Try to relax, do something different, maybe just have a rest for a few days, just try to get some fresh air so you can start over again.
So what do you do to get through that?
Trying not to do much. Just to relax, reset everything, get some good sleep, just enjoy kind of again normal life.
What do you hope your legacy would be when you choose to retire from tennis? What do you hope people will say about you?
I hope I’m going to be the one to be on top for so many years, the player that played so many grand slams in a row and played entertaining tennis for so many years.
Any idea of what you’d do post-retirement?
It’s hard to say what I’m going to do, but I have a couple of ideas. I think it’s always going to be something with tennis. I would love to play some legends as well. You know go the grand slams, see them live again, and maybe I just hope I can see in a few years more Polish players playing. Maybe the young girls are going to play, I would love to see them live. I think going to the grand slams is always nice because everyone is there, so you’ll see all the old faces and old friends. That would be great.
Any particular legend you get excited to see at the slams or on tour?
I don’t think if there’s one particular one, it’s just always good to see those people who were running with a racquet now in a nice suit.
What is your biggest fear or insecurity?
To be honest… I don’t know. I think I’ve got everything under control. Maybe about the health. You never know how you’re going to end up in one year. I think the worst is when you stop playing tennis it’s not going to be your choice. That something is going to be that bad, that broken, that you can’t come back. I think that’s the worst for every athlete, that it’s not in your hands anymore.
Maria Sharapova will return from her doping suspension in less than two months. Do you think she’ll be welcomed back to the tour?
To be honest, I don’t know. And for me it doesn’t really matter. I think you have to ask people how they’re going to react, but I don’t know.
So for you nothing changes when she comes back?
I don’t think so especially that she can really play great tennis after a year break. That’s what she did the last time with her shoulder (injury). I don’t think she’s going to lose the match rhythm. I think she’s going to be a dangerous opponent from the first round. You can play her in the first round, it’s going to be an interesting draw with her not being seeded. But yes, for sure it’s not going to be a good draw.
Any younger players who have impressed you in particular, there are quite a few teenagers in the draw here in Dubai?
Osaka can play really adult tennis, she can really hit the ball, she knows how to play tennis for sure – a very dangerous opponent. Bellis, I’m not really sure about her. For me it was so weird that kind of she was between tennis and studying, that was kind of weird. I think when you’re playing tennis, you want to play full. Of course that’s what she finally decided to do, but I think you have to make that decision many years before that. We’ll see how she’s going to do.
When you were younger on tour, did you make friends easily and adjust quickly? How was it for you early on?
You know what I remember? I don’t know if it was my first year or second year on tour, I was the young one coming up, didn’t really know anyone that much. But I remember Jelena Jankovic being No1 and she was always so nice. You know, when she can talk, she can talk one hour and you’re late for everything, because she’s still talking and talking. And I remember her being No1 and I was the one just kind of coming up, and you couldn’t tell that she was the world No1 and I’m the one so far behind. That was so nice of her.
Over 70 children were treated to an exciting day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this morning as they participated in the Lacoste Special Needs Tennis Clinic.
Children from Dubai Autism Center, Dubai Center for Special Needs and Al Noor Training Centre enjoyed tennis lessons from the Clark Francis Tennis Academy and met top doubles player Chan Yung-Jan.
The Lacoste Special Needs Clinic is specifically designed to offer a fun tennis experience for children with special needs, and they were delighted to meet Chan Yung-Jan, who said “I always like coming to these clinics as it’s so much fun to make the kids happy and help them enjoy tennis. It’s great to put smiles on their faces and Dubai Duty Free always put on a great show for the children.”
Rahima Amirally, a teacher from Dubai Center for Special Needs said: “The children have been coming to this event for the past few years and they really look forward to it each year. The coaches and the staff are fantastic, and what they get out of this socially lives with them for a long time, so thank you.”
The children also had the chance to meet another doubles player, Aleksandrina Naydenova, who posed for photos with the children.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “Working with the Lacoste Special Needs Clinic has allowed us to spread awareness of the sport and give back to the community, and we enjoy seeing these children having such a great experience.”
Tournament Director, Salah Tahlak was delighted to see so many children enjoying the day. “The children were having a lot of fun, it was great to see them getting the chance to play some tennis and having a top player here was an added bonus.”
Play in the WTA event continues until 25th February, and the tournament continues between 27th February and 4th March with the 25th staging of the ATP World Tour event which includes Wimbledon, Olympic and ATP World Tour Finals champion and world number one Andy Murray, Australian Open champion and seven-time Dubai winner Roger Federer, defending Dubai champion Stan Wawrinka, two-time Dubai finalist Tomas Berdych and the entertaining Gael Monfils.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Tickets are still available from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily.
Tickets are also available online through http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets
For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.
Garbine Muguruza admits that she is "tired" of feeling injured all the time after the Spaniard was forced to retire from her opening match in Dubai on Tuesday with an Achilles problem.
This is the second time in four tournaments contested this season that Muguruza abandoned a match, having also retired against Alize Cornet during the Brisbane semi-finals early last month with an adductor issue.
Muguruza came to Dubai after losing in the last-16 in Doha to Zhang Shuai on a rainy day where she had to play twice due to the weather-affected schedule in the Qatari capital.
The No5 seed had a bye in the first round in the Emirates and halted her match while down 1-4 against Kateryna Bondarenko on Tuesday.
"When I finished in Doha, that day that I - because of the rain, a lot of people played two matches, including me. The second one was very tough, and I remember that as soon as I went, after the match, to my room, I started to have a pain in my left Achilles," Muguruza told reporters in Dubai.