Radwanska Survives, Gets 300th Match Win
Published February 21, 2012 12:00
DUBAI, UAE - World No.6 Agnieszka Radwanska scored the 300th match win of her young career Tuesday, but it wasn't easy, as she had to fight back to beat Aleksandra Wozniak at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Playing her first match of the week in windy conditions at the Premier event, the No.5-seeded Radwanska cruised through the first set in 28 minutes, 6-1. She broke for 6-5 in the second set and served for the match, even going ahead 30-0, but Wozniak began creeping back with some solid play from the baseline, and she managed to push it to a third set. The Canadian qualifier even built a 5-3 lead in the decider before Radwanska made one last push to win, 61 67(6) 75.
"She started to play much better in the second set," Radwanska said of Wozniak, a former World No.21 now ranked No.80. "The last time I played her was a long time ago, but I saw she passed the qualies here, and she was just running and moving very well, and being very consistent in the second and third sets. With the wind so strong today it was really hard to finish the points, too.
"The first match is always a tricky one, so I'm just very happy I could come back in this third set, get through it and win the match."
Wozniak wasn't the only player to come out of qualifying and push their first round opponents to the limit. Lucie Safarova nearly let a 5-0 third set lead slip before finally closing out qualifier Petra Martic, 63 57 63, while Daniela Hantuchova was a game away from losing in the second set and twice a game away from losing in the third against lucky loser Polona Hercog, 16 75 76(4).
"It was very tough conditions today with the wind, but I just tried to stick with my tactics and not get upset about it," Safarova said. "Both Doha and Dubai are very well-organized and very luxurious tournaments, I would say, and for me and the players it's always nice to come here. These events are at a very high level."
Qualifiers Iveta Benesova and Simona Halep also scored first round wins, Halep pulling off a 64 62 win over World No.15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. It was Halep's fourth career Top 20 win, all of them coming in the last seven months (No.15 Svetlana Kuznetsova at Toronto last August, No.6 Li Na at the US Open last August and No.20 Daniela Hantuchova at Doha last week).
"The victory against Hantuchova last week was important. After that match I believed a lot more in myself and now I'm playing better and better every day," Halep commented. "My tactic today was to hit away from her body and not very flat because she blocks very well. I tried that today and I did it."
Halep next faces World No.4 Caroline Wozniacki. "It was my dream to play her when she was no.1, but it's too late now and she's No.3, or something like this. But she's still a good player, a very good player. I will enjoy it."
The night session saw back-to-back upsets, with Ana Ivanovic surviving a marathon 10-deuce game midway through the second set and eventually closing out No.7 seed Francesca Schiavone, 61 75, and Peng Shuai rallying from 3-0 down in both sets to beat No.6 seed Marion Bartoli in straights, 64 63, a rare match between two players who hit with two hands off both sides.
"Francesca stepped up and really hung in there and gave me a tough match in the second set," Ivanovic said afterwards. "It's such a small draw, so you can't really get any easy matches. And Francesca and I always have long and tough matches. I was impressed the way I started the match and played that first set, because I knew it was probably not going to last in the second set."