2016 French Open

Radwanska prefers grass success

World #2 not fond of clay court competitions

Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed for Eastbourne’s coveted 2016 Aegon International, is looking forward to the grass season more than the French Open.

The 27-year-old, who ran out of steam in the third set of last year’s final at Devonshire to succumb to talented teenager Belinda Bencic, has climbed back up the world rankings and embraced her place as a top five player.

Yet the world #2 is not expecting to be at Eastbourne as the French Open champion, despite hitting top form on a surface that she grew up learning the sport.

She admitted: ‎”Clay is not my favourite surface, though I’ve had some good results on it.

“I find it hard to move, especially with the clay that they use now. It’s not like the clay that they used to use a few years ago – ‎it’s fast and slippery.

“It’s fast but you can’t really run on it, and when you take away running from me, then I’m in trouble.

“I can slide but I find playing on clay much harder than on a hard court. On hard courts you can just stop immediately and then run in the other direction. On clay it’s a different story.

“I grew up playing on clay and everything was fine. But then when I was on Tour everything changed. I had to get used to playing on hard courts because that’s the surface for 90 per cent of the tournaments.”

‎The red clay at Roland Garros has never been a hit for Radwanska, but over the past decade there have been a number of unexpected French Open women champions.

The ex-Wimbledon runner-up has had mixed form during the gruelling clay court season, easing into the Stuttgart semi-finals of Stuttgart before falling at the hands of German qualifier Laura Siegemund.

With a reversal to Slovak star Dominika Cibulkova at the Madrid Open, Radwanska skipped the Italian Open in order to prepare for a shot at the second Grand Slam of the season.

Radwanska made the semi-final stage at the opening major of the year, the Australian Open, but on clay it is a much tougher task.

The grass court season is almost upon us and Radwanska, whose fine form has materialised since the US Open, is biting at the bit to go one step further at Eastbourne this year – especially as the Centre Court have taken the Polish ace into their hearts.

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