Daniela Hantuchova talks to Sky Sports Raz Mirza about her future goals
Daniela Hantuchova talks to Sky Sports' Raz Mirza about her career, Wimbledon and her future goals.
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza
Last Updated: 20/06/13 6:24pm
The Slovakian experienced a stress fracture in her foot which kept her out of action towards the end of last year and could easily have ended her career.
Her confidence was at a low ebb and during her recovery she dropped down to 60th in the world rankings. It was the first time in 12 years that she had dropped outside the top 40.
In her first tournament back from injury she managed to reach the quarter-finals in Brisbane, but things didn't go according to plan at the grand slams where she exited the Australian Open and French Open at the first-round stage.
That was then and this is now. Hantuchova is back on her favourite grass-court surface where she has worked hard at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire to get back into tip-top shape.
Last week she proved all her doubters wrong when she beat Croat teenager Donna Vekic to claim her sixth career title - and her first since February last year - at the AEGON Classic in Edgbaston, which helped her move up to 48th in the latest rankings.
After spending fully 14 hours on court during a week in which she had suffered from an ankle injury, it was testament to her steely character and determination to come away with the title.
And with Wimbledon now fast approaching, former world No 5 Hantuchova has proven to be a model of consistency on and off the court.
"My main aim is getting back into the top 10," she said. "That's where I've been before and I know what it takes to get back there again.
"I need to produce a lot of hard work and dedication but I'm prepared to do whatever it takes.
"I've been playing on the tour for 14 years and I've only had two stress fractures, but other than that I've never taken a longer break than three months.
"It obviously takes time but the good thing now is that I don't have anything to defend, so I can just go and play my game."
Hantuchova, who has won mixed-doubles titles at all four grand slams, believes she is playing well enough to be a top 10 player again and is now ready to make an impact at Wimbledon.
"I think so," she said. "I definitely felt like I always had the game, but it's just about putting it all together and if I didn't believe that then I would not be playing so I want to get back there.
"I do (love the grass). It's my favourite time of the year. I love being in England because people have always been so nice with me and it's my favourite surface so I always look forward to it."
Hantuchova has many happy memories growing up in Slovakia with her older brother, Igor, who is now an architect in Bratislava.
She was born in northern Slovakia in a small town called Poprad in the Tatras mountains.
"I was born in Poprad, but actually I was brought up in Bratislava," said Hantuchova. "My parents just worked there at the time.
"I was recently talking about the fact that we were all just born in Poprad - my brother and also my cousins too.
"But we spent our childhood in Bratislava from which I have so many beautiful memories and sharing everything with my brother who has been the biggest idol in my life and I'm just very thankful for every single moment in my childhood."
Hantuchova's life was busy as a child with dad Igor, a computer scientist, and mother Marianna, a toxicologist, sending her to train as a classical pianist as an after school activity.
"Yes, that's true," Hantuchova said with a big smile. "I went to the musical school for eight years, so I was always a busy girl going to school and then running to practice to play the piano then doing a workout. I don't remember having five minutes to myself."
Hantuchova is also known to be a perfectionist at everything she does in life, although she has since found out that she was aiming for something that never truly existed.
"I used to be (a perfectionist) but I've learned over the years that it doesn't exist at the end of the day.
"It's great to strive for it and try to be perfect in many ways but at the end of the day you have to accept that it's never going to be like that and as long as you're giving your best, then that's fine."
Tour stalwart Hantuchova also seems to have the upper hand over young British hope Laura Robson after defeating her for the third time in as many meetings in Birmingham.
However, she believes the world No 37 has bright future ahead of her and needs to carry on working hard in order to achieve her goals.
"There are some players where you feel just more comfortable playing against than others, but it's always been tough playing against her.
"She's a great player and she's got a great future ahead of her, but I'm just always focused on my game."
Hantuchova appeared in the 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, but when her career does come to an end, she is already planning on bringing out her own clothing range.
"I do a bit of modelling which is just something to make things interesting. But there are many other things I would love to explore and try and see how good I am at doing it.
"I've always been very interested in fashion so you know designing my own line one day would be awesome."