Nadia Podoroska
Nadia Podoroska Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska is counting on an enhanced array of arsenal to maintain her end of year form heading into this week’s season-opening inaugural Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open.

Unheralded Podoroska sliced her way through the qualifying rounds that eventually culminated in a semi-final run at the French Open in October last year to be later named 2020’s WTA Newcomer of the Year.

Podoroska, who spent a day practicing with Garbine Muguruza in Abu Dhabi, will face Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round and could run into 16th seed Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round and a possible clash with former world number one, Karolina Pliskova in the Round of 16.

Following her lone Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros, Podoroska scaled her best singles ranking of world No. 48.

“Now I am on this Tour and all the others know about me. I have worked on certain aspects of my game during my preseason preparations and I expect these to come through as I improve my game and grow up as a player,” Podoroska told media, on Tuesday.

“I think I did all the right things last year and at the end of the season I had three great weeks where I was focused on my game and what I needed to do. I think I played some of my best tennis and I hope to continue this going forward this year,” she promised.

Podoroska practised with former two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre, on Monday. “It’s really nice being here and to be on these outdoor courts need a lot of adjustments as some are slow and the others are fast. We will wait and see which court I am playing tomorrow,” she related.

“One of the reasons why I choose to play here is because it gives me this great opportunity to hit and play against some of the best players in the world. This is the reason why I play tennis as I want to be among the best while getting this exposure against the best players,” she added.

“I have had a solid preseason wherein I have paid attention to improving on some aspects like my serve and net play. I feel I am now ready to compete and that is why I want to play all these tournaments. All the work that I have put in will now show,” stressed the 23-year-old.

Her first years on the circuit were complicated, due to financial difficulties to compete internationally. In late 2017, she suffered several injuries that put her career in jeopardy. But, upon her return, Podoroska shifted her base to Alicante in Spain so that Europe would give her greater competition chances.

In addition, she began to be trained by Juan Pablo Guzmán and Emiliano Redondi. She also added Pedro Merani to her team, with whom she performs a mental training based on Bompu Zen and neuroscience, an aspect that she considered important to change her attitude towards tennis and its matches.