EASTBOURNE, England, June 18 (Reuters) - Wimbledon can hold no fear for Agnieszka Radwanska this year, after she survived all the way to the final last July.
Having got her maiden grand-slam final out of the way, conquering her nerves and taking eventual winner Serena Williams to three sets, the Polish world number four is feeling relaxed about returning to the All-England Club next week.
“Everything around the final was a huge, huge thing and for me it was the biggest day,” Radwanska told Reuters in an interview as she prepared for Wimbledon at the Eastbourne grasscourt tournament on Monday.
“It was such a big difference from other finals I’ve played before and I think it doesn’t matter if you win or lose a grand-slam final it’s just a great experience, one of the biggest experiences of my life, and hopefully I will have more opportunity to be in major finals.”
Radwanska, who has dyed her brown hair blonde in time for Wimbledon and is known as “Aga” to her friends, smiled as she recalled how she felt when she was preparing for last year’s final.
“Every match like that is a huge experience and now I know how it is to go on court and play this big match,” said the 24-year-old, who was struck down by a throat infection on the eve of last year’s final.
”Everything around it, and even the day before, everything was huge and of course (there was) a lot of adrenalin those days.
“I was really nervous before and also on court as well but I think now I know how it is and I think I will go on court feeling more relaxed than before.”
Grass has long been Radwanska’s favourite surface, even though it was alien to her until midway through her teens.
“I don’t have any grass courts in my home town in Poland so I was playing on synthetic grass for many years,” said the former world number two who hails from Krakow.
”It was a little bit similar, it has a low bounce and it was a little bit faster, but my first time on grass was when I was playing junior Wimbledon.
“The first time I played on grass I was 16 and just after the first practice I said I really like that surface and I really enjoyed every point.”
Her enjoyment showed: Radwanska won the Wimbledon girls’ title that year, 2005.
This year has thrown up another surface that Radwanska particularly enjoys - clay. A fortnight ago, she reached her first French Open quarter-final, losing to Italian Sara Errani.
“I was very excited about that, and another quarter-final in a grand slam is a very good result for me so I was very happy about that,” said Radwanska who has made it into the last eight of every grand slam except the U.S. Open.
Hard work ahead of the clay season had paid off, she said.
“I was trying to do a lot of fitness and doing a lot of things off court. I was really preparing a lot before the grand slam.”
A quick trip home, lots of phone chats with younger sister Urszula, who is playing in Den Bosch this week, and the older Radwanska was ready to switch to grass.
“It’s always hard when you are changing the surface after a couple of weeks but it’s good,” she said.
As for Wimbledon, she is just determined to enjoy being back.
“There’s always a bit of pressure when you are defending a final (appearance) but I‘m just trying not to really think about it, just enjoying playing on grass, enjoying Wimbledon - it’s my favourite grand slam.” (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)