Hantuchova: I can_Ñét wait to be on court again
Originally published on: 13/06/12 00:00
Daniela Hantuchova took her WTA bow on the grass of Birmingham back in 1999 when she played in her first ever qualifying tournament at this level. This week the Slovakian is back at the Edgbaston Priory Club for the AEGON Classic and the 29-year-old is hoping for some valuable playing time ahead of Wimbledon after a two-month absence from the game with an injury to her left foot.
A finalist here last year, Hantuchova is glad to be back on her favourite surface and the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist is looking ahead to the extended grass-court season.
First off, how is your foot and what are your thoughts on being back?
Yeah, I mean I haven’t played for five weeks. It was kind of tough to be away in the middle of the season but obviously there was nothing I could have done about it. I did all I could to be ready for the grass courts. I did really good rehab and now I just can’t wait to be on the court again.
Does it give you encouragement that many of the Grand Slam winners over the last two years have been from your generation?
Yes definitely, that’s what keeps me going! It is very nice to see all the girls in my age doing well. I think that’s when the experience kicks in and they use that very well. And, you know, in our age group I think the most important thing is staying healthy. I think if we can do that then we definitely have the tennis and the experience to do well in the tournaments.
What are your thoughts on the Olympics and the extended grass-court season?
Yeah, definitely for me it is a very special tournament. The Olympics were the reason I started to play tennis so it’s going to be very exciting and the fact that it’s going to be on grass makes it even more special. So, yes, it’s probably the most exciting part of my career.
Obviously there’s doubles and for the first time since 1924 mixed doubles will be played. Would you like to play in both these events and have you given any thought to who you’ll pair up with?
I would love to. I don’t know the criteria of how it works, particularly the mixed doubles because there are only 16 pairs and it’s going to be tough. But obviously winning all four Grand Slams always helps! [Hantuchova is only the third person in the open era to win a career Grand Slam of mixed doubles titles]. If we qualify in doubles obviously I will play with [Dominika] Cibulkova and I think we have our chances there. We are going to play Wimbledon [for the first time] and we have played in Fed Cup once a few years ago. We were supposed to play in Paris as well but unfortunately I couldn’t.
In terms of mixed doubles will you be looking to play with Filip Polasek?
Yes, or [Michal] Mertinak. I think one of them, which would be very very cool. But like I said, first we have to qualify.
Hantuchova kicks off her grass-court campaign today at the AEGON Classic. The No.3 seed, who received a bye in the first round, will take on Melinda Czink in round two after the Hungarian saw off Anna Tatishvili of Georgia yesterday.