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By Blair Henley | Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 
Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska will try to move beyond the fourth round for the first time at the 2014 US Open. In the meantime, she entertained us with her answers to our Q & A.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Over the past five years, Agnieszka Radwanska has established herself as one of the most consistent players on the WTA Tour. Criticized in the early stages of her career for lacking a noteworthy weapon, the current world No. 5 has gradually proven that her court sense and craftiness are just as entertaining and effective as the power-centric games of her peers.

She’ll arrive at the 2014 US Open looking to move past the fourth round for the first time since she turned pro in 2005. But before she takes the stage in Flushing Meadows, the 25-year-old will make an appearance at Taste of Tennis, a fusion of the best in tennis and the culinary world. As a brand ambassador for two of the event’s sponsors, Cheesecake Factory and RADO, she’ll be in high demand.

>>READ MORE ON TASTE OF TENNIS

We caught up with Radwanska before she kicked off her summer hard court campaign.

We know you’re a cheesecake fan, but what other foods do you make sure to try out at an event like Taste of Tennis?

I’m a massive sushi fan, so I’ll eat as much of that as I can. Also the slider burgers were great last year, too. I ate a lot of The Cheesecake Factory’s Fresh Strawberry cheesecake, which I love, and took some home for my team. Of course, my RADO friends will be there this year, too, so I’ll spend some time with them and see what they are eating!

Did you ever guess that your love of the Cheesecake Factory would turn into a sponsorship?

No, not at all (laughs)! I would call it a partnership rather than a sponsorship, to be honest. We are both the biggest fans of each other! It was just a great coincidence.

Some people might look at you and wonder how they can have your body, but still eat the occasional piece of cheesecake. What’s your secret?

There’s no secret, really. There is a balance in life which involves regular exercise, good sleep and eating the right things. Within that you have to treat yourself occasionally to make sure life is fun - that’s healthy, too. I want young girls to know that you don’t have to starve yourself to stay in shape. Just be sensible, do the right things and enjoy life.

Do you cook at home or on the road? Do you have a signature dish?

I’m not the best, but [my sister] Ula cooks a good teriyaki chicken. My favorite dish to eat is the Miso Salmon at Cheesecake Factory.

Given your position as a Lexus brand ambassador, I have to ask – are you a good driver?

Hmm, I’m not sure the best way to answer that. The car can go fast, but I always stay within the speed limits. Let’s put it that way (laughs).

You are known for hitting groundstrokes from a sitting position (very impressive). Do you do a lot of squats (or any specific leg workout) to prepare for that?

I practice them sitting on the couch watching TV (laughs). No, just kidding. Seriously, they are just quite natural shots for me, and I’ve always played them. I do a lot of strengthening on my lower body, but not just so I can play those shots.

You’ve been nicknamed “The Ninja” thanks to your crafty play. Does that make you laugh? Did you feel like you worked more on your tactical game growing up to give you an edge at this stage of your career? Or do your “ninja” qualities come naturally?

I know! So may funny ones. Lady Aga is my favorite. I guess I’m a natural “ninja.”

Any plans for a ninja Halloween costume in the future? I’m sure your fans would love it.

Great idea. That would be hilarious!

Your countryman Jerzy Janowicz released a rap video earlier this year. Given that you’re an Eminem fan, do you have any plans to rap with him in the future?

I’m a terrible singer, but maybe I would be better at rapping. I’m a good dancer, so I think that would be my role in a group.

You’ve consistently reached the fourth round at the US Open, but haven’t quite been able to make the next step. Can you think of any particular reason for that? Do you have a game plan to break through this year?

It’s strange because I love playing in the U.S., so I’m not sure of the reasons. I’ve been playing consistently this year, so of course I hope to progress as far as I can in New York.

You have a solid all-around game that, barring injury, could keep you in the top 10 for the foreseeable future. That said, how do you keep things fresh and exciting? How do you motivate yourself to take the next step, whether that be a Grand Slam title or a No. 1 ranking?

The answer is in the question. The motivation is to win a Slam and to reach No 1. I’ve won tournaments at every level up to the Slams, and I’ve been no 2.

 

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