Tennis

Wozniak's Blog: Getting used to grass ahead of Wimbledon

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Aleksandra Wozniak, Special to RDS and TSN
6/17/2014 11:16:38 AM
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After an appearance at the French Open and a five-match run at the Aegon Classic, Blainville, Quebec's Aleksandra Wozniak reflects on her play and her preparation for Roland Garros in her personal blog on RDS.ca and TSN.ca.

The last few weeks have been hectic between my participation at Roland Garros and my debut this Tuesday at Wimbledon.

It was a heartbreaking match against Sorana Cirstea at the French Open about two weeks ago. It's been awhile since I found myself in a situation like that. I lost the match by a hair after being at match point.

Against the 26th-seed in the tournament, a player who hits very hard, it's already promised to be difficult. I played a very good game until I dropped the second set and it has been a little hard to get over it eventually. I rather started playing a little too defensively and it let her take the lead and I dropped points. I made too many mistakes in the third set and it's been difficult for me after the meeting.

But it's time to turn the page quickly to tackle the season on grass. I trained with artificial turf on the site of Roland Garros and made the adjustments necessary to make the transition from clay to grass, which is not easy because it's a completely different game. Balls move faster, points come quicker with up to three exchanges, and it is rare that there are more than that. It was necessary to modify some aspects of my game accordingly.

To put these adjustments into practice, I flew to Birmingham where I had an excellent tournament. I played five big matches, including two in qualifying. My progress was stopped, however, in the third round by former Wimbledon semi-finalist, Kirsten Flipkens. I won the first set 6-1 and was leading the second 3-1, but Flipkens came back strong and served well. She played better in the third set than I did. While she was aggressive, I struggled with my games and was fighting shots. Flipkens is especially difficult to play on grass because of the way she can slice and her net play, so it's no surprise that she went as far as she did at Wimbledon in 2013.

Still, it was a good tournament for me and there was a lot to be gained from it. Little by little, I'm improving in the rankings. I'm up to 118th in the world, which is an improvement of 17 places since the last rankings. My coach, Nathalie Tauziat, also said she likes the progress in my game that she's noticed since the beginning of this European swing at the Cagnes-sur-Mer tournament in France. We're continuing to move forward and this is encouraging. It just takes one good tournament run to accumulate points and keep propelling forward.

Tomorrow (June 17), I have another opportunity to build on this momentum when I begin qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon. I will face Renata Voracova, not a very well-known player, who is ranked 172nd in the world. She's a regular doubles player on top of singles and loves to play at the net. Voracova loves to play on grass and I'm going to have to dictate the pace from the start. Because the ball doesn't bounce as well on grass, I'm going to have to keep low, legs bent, in anticipation of its movement. Qualification continues on Wednesday and Thursday.

A woman amongst the men

A little bit of a digression here on the recent news of Andy Murray hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach.

It's rare to see a woman in this position, especially in the ATP, because often, after their careers, female players spend time with their families.

I think Murray picked Mauresmo with good reason. She's a former Grand Slam champion (the Australian Open and Wimbledon) with lots of experience. He sees what she can provide, but this is a bit of a different approach. In my case, it was last year when I began training with a female coach after years of training with men. We get along well because Nathalie understands the emotions of a player.

Their new partnership is a trial for the grass court season. It's difficult to find the right mix between the player and coach and there's always a period of adjustment. Chemistry won't be built in an instant. Murray will assess all of this after Wimbledon to see if the potential for a longer-term partnership is there.

Aleksandra Wozniak (Photo: Christopher Levy)

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(Photo: Christopher Levy)
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