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Friday, January 27, 2023

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Magda Linette won what COVID-19 took from her. “I’ve had enough”

Magda Linette has not finished her participation in the Australian Open yet, but she has already achieved a life success in Melbourne. From a player who in 29 previous attempts to the Grand Slam main ladder was unable to pass the third round, she turned into a semi-finalist of the prestigious competition. And although it can be even better, because on Thursday she will fight for the final, the 30-year-old already has many reasons to be happy. One of them is the debut in the Top 30 of the WTA ranking. Thanks to this, she will be seeded in subsequent Grand Slam events, and the Polish woman has had bad luck in the past when drawing the ladder of these tournaments.

Three years ago, Linette felt she was on the verge of a breakthrough. She was interrupted by COVID-19

Currently, Linette is the 45th racket in the world, but from Monday it will have to be looked for much higher in this list. How many places she will eventually advance will only be known after she finishes her performance in Melbourne, but it is already known that she will move to at least 22nd place. It is a double joy for her, because not only will she be so high on the WTA list for the first time, but it will also allow her to significantly reduce the risk of a very difficult crossing at the very beginning of the next editions of the Grand Slam this year.

– I’ll be set up eventually. I fought for it for so long – Linette does not hide her joy when asked about the imminent promotion to the highest position in the ranking of tennis players in her career.

A Grand Slam seed is assigned to the top 32 singles players in both men and women. An exception applies to men’s Wimbledon competition. There, the organizers introduced their own converter, which – apart from the position in the world ranking – also takes into account, among others, the player’s score from the previous edition of the London tournament and the results obtained in ATP competitions on grass.

Linette recalls that she came close to being seeded in a Grand Slam once before. In February 2020, she was ranked 33rd on the world list, and since sometimes someone from the top drops out of the cast, e.g. for health reasons, it would be possible for her to be seeded in another tournament of this rank even without another promotion. Everything has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-March, when the Polish woman was 36, international tennis competition was suspended for five months. When it resumed, the 30-year-old fell slightly in the ranking and failed to return to the position it held in February.

“At the time, I felt I was close to a breakthrough. I won’t say it was taken away from me because we were all in the same situation. But I regretted it because I was doing well, I felt very confident. I felt like I already knew what worked well for me and what didn’t. And I was supposed to be set up for the first time, and it didn’t work out. So it will be a new experience for me. I’m very happy because I’m tired of ladders in which I meet opponents with one and two in the first round – emphasizes Linette.

Linette’s unlucky draws, which had a certain advantage

She has indeed had bad luck. Although she was in the Top 50, she still faced the opening or second round with the leader or vice-leader of the world list. Such bad luck will soon be avoided.

On the other hand, unlucky draws in Grand Slam tournaments did her some good. When she met one of the players from the absolute top, it was certain that she would play on one of the biggest courts. And performances in large arenas can intimidate tennis players accustomed to performances in much smaller venues. In addition, the conditions for the game can differ quite significantly on both. And although Linette has never even been in the 1/8 finals before, she already has a game on big courts.

– I had a lot of experience playing them before, because in almost every Grand Slam appearance I ended up with them sooner or later. I’ve played with a lot of great players. This is really nothing new. Just another match. Of course, now it is at a much later stage of the competition, but I have the impression that it is the same – analyzes the Polish woman.

In Wednesday’s quarterfinals in Melbourne, she defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5. She had previously faced the Czech as many as nine times, including twice in the Grand Slam. And on the biggest courts, because in 2017 the rival was the first racket in the world.

– I have already played with Karolina twice at the opening of the US Open, so I perceived today’s situation quite naturally – assures Linette now.

The end is getting closer, but still too far away. A poor match will help Linette beat Sabalenka?

It is also not a problem for her that in the absence of previous successes in Grand Slams – she has not yet won a series of matches won in such tournaments. However, due to performances in other competitions, she happened to record such a thing.

“At one point, I must have won eight consecutive matches. These experiences have also helped me somewhere now. This is nothing completely new to me. But the opponents are rather much more experienced and for them it is also a huge opportunity. So I don’t want to think too far ahead.

And she mentions it when one of the journalists says that she won’t believe that the thought of the final has not crossed her mind yet.

“I only focus on one game at a time. the next one. I have such tough opponents that I can’t think that far ahead. The final is still too far away now, but the fact that it is getting closer, admits the 30-year-old.

She will play Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday for promotion to Saturday’s title match. The fifth-seeded Belarusian is the only remaining representative of the Top 10. From the beginning – due to the recently presented form and style of play – she was mentioned among the favorites of the Australian Open.

The Polish woman has lost both duels with this opponent so far. In 2018, she scored a total of four games, and at the Tokyo Olympics she scored one less. The 30-year-old has no good memories of the Olympic court, although she liked the atmosphere of the Games very much.

– Dawid Celt (Linette’s coach at the time – ed.) laughed that I had a nice trip then. I had great memories from the Olympics, even though the match itself didn’t work out for me at all. But the conditions were completely different from those here. Now I feel like I have more good experiences from hard matches. There it was the first round, I wasn’t so sure. Now I hope that experience will help me – he analyzes.

And she adds a bit perversely with a smile that a severe defeat in Tokyo can now be her advantage. “I’m going to try and use that game to my advantage.” He didn’t give her much of a picture of how I play. I hope to surprise her. That it will be hard for her and she will be nervous, Linette cheerfully argues.

Source: Sport


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