Wimbledon: Managing one’s professional tennis career is often just as tricky as figuring out which shot to play mid-rally or which serve to hit while facing a break point.
One wrong decision can have serious consequences and Magda Linette feels grateful the changes she made to her team two months ago proved to be the right move, as she stormed into the Wimbledon third round with a career-best win over No.3 seed Elina Svitolina on Thursday.
The Polish 29-year-old had to undergo knee surgery on the eve of the Australian Open, which forced her to miss the first Grand Slam of the season. When she returned to action in March, she lost five of her first six matches and felt she had to do something to turn things around.
“My bouncing back was really long,” the world No.44 Linette says with a laugh.
“Because it took me I think six, seven tournaments that I lost first round all of them were like three-setters and I couldn’t really find a way. And I ended up changing my team one week before Strasbourg.”
Linette parted ways with her coach Nick Horvat and began working with Poland’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Dawid Celt, the husband of former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska. She made the semi-finals in Strasbourg in their first tournament together.
“I’m just glad that the hard work I put during the rehab worked out but I also took a step back mentally to relax, regroup, just one week before Strasbourg and since then I was playing much better,” she reflects.
“I’m just happy that I made good decisions, because when you make tough decisions you never know what’s going to happen, you risk a lot and I’m just happy that those really difficult decisions after Rome, they’re just working out.”
Linette says Celt helped her utilise her footwork in the right way, which was much-needed against a grinder like Svitolina, who is a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and can outrun the very best of them on any given day.
Linette is finding her form at just the right time as she was confirmed for Poland’s Olympic squad on Thursday. Her sole previous appearance at the Games came in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but it was a last-minute call-up and she admittedly felt unprepared, which led to a first round exit to a 13th-ranked Dominika Cibulkova.
Linette has lost all five of her previous third round matches at the majors and looks to be sixth time lucky against the recent Roland-Garros quarter-finalist.
“I’m still so close yet so far from it,” Linette says, daydreaming of that precious spot in the second week.