Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
The popular Slovakian ace, whose form has dipped dreadfully after a promising start to the season, even withdrew from the 2012 French Open for “personal reasons”.
The world no18 is set be the no2 seed at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham (11-17 June) behind top seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany — who Hantuchova lost to in last year’s final.
And if Hantuchova prepares for the back-to-back majors of Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympics at Devonshire Park (16-23 June), then she will be aiming to go further than last season when she was forced out of the AEGON International by injury on Court No1.
Hantuchova, informed Roland Garros officials that she was not ready to compete in Grand Slam event due to personal reasons. However, the 29-year-old is prone to niggling injuries and may simply be just resting ahead of the looming grass court season.
She was in formidable form at the start of the year, finishing runner-up at the season opening tournament in Brisbane but was destroyed by former Eastbourne champion Kim Clijsters in the 3rd Round of the Australian Open.
The Slovakian star shone with a pair of terrific triumphs to oust France in the Fed Cup tie and then retained her Pattaya Open title. But after poor performances in Doha and Dubai, Hantuchova was hammered in Indian Wells and Miami.
Lacking her usual confidence, she lost at singles and then bounced back to claim a win in Slovakia’s narrow Fed Cup success over Spain. Yet she has skipped the clay court season — including the French Open, the Italian Open as well as high-profile events in Madrid and Barcelona.
Since receiving the coveted 2001 Newcomer of the Year award from the WTA Tour, she remains in the world’s top 20 at singles. Only time will tell whether she returns to compete at Eastbourne this year.