By Sandra Harwitt
It was only a few days ago that Agnieszka Radwanska was enthusiastically telling reporters on the ground at the BNP Parabas Open that her deal with 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova to be her coaching consultant was a huge positive.
Radwanska went on to express how Navratilova’s expertise and experience made her the right voice needed for both on-and-off the court. It’s a hard argument to falter as Navratilova is one of the greatest to play the game -making it reasonable to assume that Martina has pertinent information to impart.
The goal is simple, that’s for sure. Radwanska, a 2012 Wimbledon finalist to Serena Williams and more recently a 2013 Australian Open semifinalist, wants to win a Grand Slam title. In her mind she has the talent and wherewithall to get the job done – she just needs a little help from a friend.
Enter Navratilova – stage right.
Navratilova joined the Radwanska team for this season and the 26-year-old Pole summed up their first few months as “so far, so good.”
Nice sentiment. But is it true? Indeed is Navratilova the right mentor for Radwanska?
Sadly, thus far, the results aren’t really supporting the supposition.
Her best showing of the season was reaching the Doha quarterfinals heading into Indian Wells. Before that there was a third round appearance at Dubai, two Fed Cup losses to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova in a first round home tie in Krakow, a fourth round finish at the Australian Open and second round end at Sydney.
And then there is today at Indian Wells. In what would be the biggest day in Heather Watson’s tennis career, the Briton secured her first Top 10 scalp with a 6-4, 6-4 over Radwanska. The bubbly Watson had never before won a set against Radwanska in three previous matches. Although the Indian Wells court would seem to suit Radwanska, a finalist last year in the desert, Watson was able to break serve five times, including in the opening game of the match. This is a match that Radwanska should’ve won – no offense to Watson intended – and even giving Navratilova her ear didn’t seem to translate to the court.
Here’s the TenniShorts lowdown on this partnership:
1- No need to panic yet, Aga. Sometimes a coaching relationship takes some time to gel – personalities are different as are working styles so there is some give-and-take to be made. It’s worth noting that Navratilova wasn’t on hand in the Middle East so there’s is still a very new situation. Give it some time, listen and take in what Martina has to impart and see if the tempo of the teacher-student scenario begins to simmer in the right direction.
2- Yes, Aga, you are a Top 10 player and in theory there’s no reason why if things fall into place there shouldn’t be a Grand Slam title for your trophy case. However, many of the best end up without that most cherished of possessions and still can retire knowning they’ve had a very successful career. In 2007, you became the first Polish woman to win a WTA title and you now have 14 and no doubt will have more. Keep the faith, but don’t accentuate the need for a Grand Slam trophy as that strategy could just make you nervous and keep you out of contention for what you want most.