Dubai: The smile hardly leaves her face, maybe only when she is on court, trying to out-think her opponents. She kind of reminds you of Martina Hingis, her groundstrokes a lot less brutal than most other women on tour. But she makes intelligent use of the court, as evidenced by her rise to world No. 6 in the rankings. A fan favourite wherever she goes, the significance of the WTA Fan Favourite Singles Player of the Year award is not lost on Polish No 1 Agnieszka Radwanska.
Talking to XPRESS exclusively ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship that begins at The Aviation Club tennis stadium on February 20, the 2010 semi-finalist says that such awards are as important as winning titles. "It was one of the nicest things last year. I didn't know about this thing, while people kept sending me congratulatory messages, I only found out on the internet that I won this competition. I am very happy to win something like this."
The elder of the Radwanska sisters is no stranger to Dubai, having been a regular here and she reveals why she likes to come back again and again. "It has always been a great tournament. It has a very strong draw, so you always end up playing against the top players. It's a lot of fun, the organisers are very caring about the players. There are great hotels and great facilities and it's fun to be here," she said.
Radwanska had her best year in 2011, winning big tournaments in Beijing and Tokyo. So, does she believe her game is finally where she can make that big push to the top?
"Of course, I mean winning those big tournaments always gives you a lot of confidence, especially playing matches against top players, and not easy matches. For sure I had a great end season. I hope to keep it going this year, hope to play the same good tennis," she said.
The 22-year-old has been consistent at the Grand Slams, reaching five quarter-finals and she hopes to go better this year.
"It was always very close. It's hard to say what's not working at the quarters.
"I've had good and tough matches playing top-10 players at that stage. For sure, I'm going to fight for semis and finals and we'll see," she said.
Having already reached a career-high No 6 early on, she also hopes to feature again at the year-end WTA Championship.
"I am very happy to reach a career-high at the start of the year. It's just the beginning, there's the whole season left to play. This year we have the Olympics and a lot of big tournaments. My goal is not one or two tournaments. I would like to play the championship again," she said.