Roland Garros is top of the list for Griffioen

The Dutch player’s main target for 2017 is not to remain as world No.1 but to win more Grand Slams. 07 Mar 2017
Jiske Griffioen NED playing against Aniek Van Koot NED in the Women's Singles Gold Medal Match

Jiske Griffioen NED playing against Aniek Van Koot NED in the Women's Singles Gold Medal Match.

ⒸOlympic Information Services OIS.
By Andrew Cross | For the IPC

“To win it one more time would mean the world to me.”

Becoming world No.1 in wheelchair tennis takes a lot of physical and mental strength, but retaining the position and building on your success takes your status to a new level.

That is what Dutch star and current women’s singles world rankings leader Jiske Griffioen is doing.

After winning four singles Grand Slams over two years and thriving for the past two seasons, the 31-year-old seeks to continue on the same path this year after ending 2016 as the best female player in the world.

Griffioen may have lost the first singles Grand Slam of the year against Yui Kamiji at the Australian Open, but she went on to claim the doubles title alongside Aniek van Koot, and still remains No.1.

However, surprisingly, that is not her main target for 2017.

“My main focus is to win Grand Slams,” said double Paralympic champion Griffioen.

“To keep the world number one ranking, you might have to play more tournaments. If that is not the best preparation for an upcoming Grand Slam, then the choice is easy for me. The preparation for a Slam beats keeping the number one ranking.

“When you are on top of the world rankings, of course you want to keep that spot! It is a great motivation to keep that number one ranking for as long as you can. It is a challenge to perform all year long, because that is what you have to do to retain that position. But it is not my only goal.”

Griffioen’s next chance to win a Grand Slam comes between 8-10 June, when she will head to Paris, France for Roland Garros.

In 2016, the Dutch star missed out on the latter stages of the second Grand Slam of the year after losing out to Great Britian’s Jordanne Whiley in the quarter-finals. She therefore failed to defend her title from 2015.

“Roland Garros is one of my main goals this year. Last year, I played very poor there. So I would love to win this tournament this year!” she said.

“It is one of my favorite slams. Two years ago I won it and became world number one. So I have great memories at Roland Garros.

“To win it one more time would mean the world to me.”

Griffioen’s chasing pack in the world rankings is led by Japan’s Yui Kamiji, followed by fellow Dutch stars Diede de Groot, Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot.

Kamiji may have already beaten Griffioen in 2017, but the Netherlands’ top female player thinks the challenge could come from anywhere in the field.

“Yui is one of the strongest opponents this year, but certainly not the only one. She always reaches a certain level that requires me to go after points,” she said.

“She does not give you a lot of free points, so you have to be focused all the time and she is a lefty, which is a bit different.

“But also fellow country women (Diede) de Groot and (Aniek) van Koot are strong opponents. They play a different game compared to Yui Kamiji, more power play. But you have to be careful when you play them. If you give them a chance to get into the match it is hard to beat them.”

Before Roland Garros gets underway in June, the 31-year-old will travel to South Africa to play the ASCA South African Open from 10-14 April.