Defending champion Radwanska vows to play her game

Agnieszka Radwanska is determined to block out any extra expectancy on her shoulders as she bids to retain the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship crown here this week.

By Alex Leach

Published: Wed 20 Feb 2013, 1:03 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:51 AM

The 23-year-old Pole has fond memories of the emirate from 12 months ago, when she won her 10th career title with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges, of Germany.

Radwanska then has plenty at stake over the next five days, with ranking points and the silverware to protect, and she’s taking a level-headed approach to her defence overall. “I will try to not think about the pressure of defending my points and the title,” the reigning champion said.

Agnieszka Radwanska during the interview in Dubai on Monday. — KT photo by Rahul Gajjar

“It’s always in the back of my mind that I won here last year and — of course — I want to try and defend it. I came here to play my game, but it’s always tough as there’s always a strong tournament here. I will try and contend again. I’m ready to go from here.” If Radwanska is to join Justine Henin and Venus Williams and become the third multiple title holder with a successful defence here, she’ll need to negotiate her way through a high-quality field.

But, she’s seemingly only too aware of the prospective challenges ahead over the next four potential matches, adding: “I’ve been playing here for the last few years and there are always top 30 players in the draw, so — from the first round — you really have to play good tennis in order not to lose. “I’m really excited to be back here, where I have good memories, and we’ll see.”

An indication of the sheer calibre of the competition is that Radwanska may face former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, new world number one Serena Williams in the semis and then last week’s Doha Open winner Victoria Azarenka in Saturday evening’s final. However, the class and scale of the competition only serves to validate her defence throughout a tough week.

“It’s always good to win the tournament with those good girls in the draw. It makes it even better,” Radwanska commented.

“Playing those players, you really have to play 100 per cent. If something is not working — even one shot — then it’s tough. With those kinds of players, you really have to play good tennis. Last week, I didn’t really serve well enough against Azarenka. It was tough for me to play without that shot and it wasn’t good enough.”

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