HoldingCourt

Angie is proof that I can be No. 1 one day

Radwanska has hopes of becoming No. 1.
Radwanska has hopes of becoming No. 1. PHOTO: EPA

In the lead-up to the Oct 21-30 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska will pen monthly columns exclusively for The Straits Times. This is her final contribution.

What a year in tennis! I have known Angelique Kerber for a long time and we are good friends. She still trains at her grandparents' tennis academy in Poland and it's always nice to have someone I can speak Polish with on the Tour. I know her very well and I know how hard she works and I have to say she's a very deserving Women's Tennis Association world No. 1.

Angie is playing unbelievable tennis this year. She showed that she can play great tennis on every surface, winning titles on clay, two Slams on hard courts, and making the Wimbledon final. She is the only player that played that well with such consistency over the whole season.

Angie becoming No. 1 definitely sends a message to the locker room that we all have a real chance to win a Slam or get to No. 1, no matter our age or our rank. But it's easier said than done. You still have to go out there and win. It's not like someone will give it to you, or that it's any easier now that Serena Williams is not No. 1.

I think the Tour is very tough right now. We can see a lot of different names in the finals of the biggest events. Everyone in the top 20 is dangerous.

I'm really looking forward to going back to Singapore. The first time I ever went there was just two years ago for the first edition of the WTA Finals in Singapore. I was immediately struck by just how convenient the city was for the event, especially since we were already finishing the season in Asia.

You still have to go out there and win. It's not like someone will give it to you, or that it's any easier now that Serena is not No. 1. I think the Tour is very tough right now.

We stayed at the Marina Bay Sands and all the great restaurants and shopping were right next to us, so it was easy to relax between our matches.

Being able to unwind is so important and it's something I really came to understand last year.

I was on the bubble to qualify for the WTA Finals and I knew I would have to play a heavy schedule in Asia to qualify. I ended up winning two tournaments and making the China Open semi-finals so, by the time I landed in Singapore, I was exhausted. I was so tired I didn't even bother practising between matches. I spent my time relaxing by the pool at the hotel because I was so drained mentally and physically.

So you can imagine my surprise when I went on to win the tournament. Maybe practice is over-rated.

To be honest, I was always a person who thought I needed to practise-play-practise. It was a mental thing.

Things are very different now. I've been on Tour for 11 years. I'm not going to forget to play tennis if I don't hit every day. It can only help if I relax and forget about tennis for a day. We're not machines.

To make sure I'm at my best, I have to look ahead and make decisions to protect my mind and body. It's not just about tomorrow; it's about your career.

With that in mind, I specifically scheduled my year to be fit and ready to defend my title in Singapore. I did not play as many tournaments this year and I can feel the difference. Even though it is the end of the season, there are so many important tournaments coming up and these events are no less important than the ones in America or Europe. Hopefully it all pays off and I can play my best tennis in Asia like I did last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline 'Angie is proof that I can be No. 1 one day'. Print Edition | Subscribe