Dubai: Feeling fresh and invigorated after battling a major illness, Urszula Radwanska wants to make the best use of the opportunities that life throws her way.
One year younger than her higher-ranked sister Agnieszka — Urszula now wants to start on a fresh page as she targets qualifying at the season-opening Australian Open in Melbourne next month.
As a junior, Urszula won the 2007 Wimbledon girls singles title that culminated with the year-ending world No. 1 ranking.
Using this as a launch pad for her professional career, Urszula got into WTA main draws via qualifying and wild cards.
Nicknamed ‘Ula,’ she went on to win one doubles title on the WTA Tour along with another four singles and 10 doubles crowns on the ITF Women’s Circuit.
Her career-high singles ranking of No. 29 came seven years back in October, 2012.
Fate intervened and at the end of October 2016, Radwanska declared that she had contracted mononucleosis — an infectious illness that leaves a person with fatigue, swollen glands and aches — putting a temporary hold on her tennis career. Then nearing prime of her career, Radwanska felt wasted as everything took a backseat as she battled a completely different aspect in her life.
It took her a good three years to come to terms with her illness, and now Radwanska feels she can start afresh and live up to her tennis potential. “I’ve been waiting for this moment forever. It’s been three years since the mononucleosis and I’ve been dying to get back to court and have some competition,” Radwanska told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 22nd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, being played at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa this week.
“The virus is gone. I am feeling fresh and good, on and off the court and I feel I am on the good way forward. I was really aching for a start with a Grand Slam and I’ve done well to make it to the qualifying rounds in Melbourne. So this week of some tough matches will do a lot of good to my game and to the confidence as well heading into Melbourne,” added the Pole, who celebrated her 29th birthday on December 7.
The entry into the qualifying rounds at the 2020 Australian Open has in fact opened up Radwanska’s world yet again. And yet, she prefers keeping herself within realistic goals for the week.
“I won’t be sweating too much to win everything here,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect in my first match [against fifth seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain] on Tuesday. If the wins come, then I am only too happy. I don’t want to put myself under pressure. But that doesn’t mean that I will not be giving off my best.”
She’s set a realistic goal by the end of 2020. “I know I can get better once I actually start playing. So this week is going to be huge for me as I will know from experience where and how much I need to improve on my game,” she said.
“The bigger picture would be a target for a top-100 finish by the end of the 2020 season.”