Radwanska Nets 25th Win Of The Season
Published March 29, 2012 12:00
MIAMI, FL, USA - Agnieszka Radwanska scored her 25th win of a breakout year on Thursday night, continuing her mastery over Marion Bartoli to reach one of the biggest finals of her career at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Bartoli was coming off a quarterfinal upset of Victoria Azarenka, ruining the World No.1's perfect start to the season - but in Radwanska, Bartoli was up against one of her most difficult match-ups, having never beaten her in their six previous meetings, in fact losing their last five meetings in straight sets.
The trend continued, as a No.5-seeded Radwanska scored a 64 62 win over the No.7-seeded Bartoli. In a match dominated by sharp returning, with 15 of the 18 games in the match going against the server, Radwanska was the one who stepped it up more on her serve, holding once in the first set and twice in the second. In the end she improved her career record against Bartoli to 7-0.
Even more bizarre than the number of breaks was the lights going off near the end of the match. "You're really focused on the match and really want to finish in two sets, then suddenly the lights go off," Radwanska said in her press conference. "It was one of the weirdest matches I've ever played. I was just in the locker room staying focused, trying to stay warm and ready to go."
Bartoli was visibly struggling with a hip injury - Radwanska was asked about it. "I know how it is to be playing with injury and playing with pain, but it's always weird when someone else is struggling with it," she said. "Today she was still playing and moving very well, though. So I really had to do my 100% in the end."
"It was 2-all or 3-2 in the first set when I started to feel it, my nerve was really compressed and I couldn't feel my leg very much," Bartoli said. "It disturbed me on my serve especially. I tried to handle the pain as much as I could - the tape helped me support my hip and muscle, but at the end it was a bit too much.
"It has been a long month, but I felt I played some great matches in Indian Wells and Miami, and reaching the semifinals here was a great achievement. Now I'll take a few days off and see how I feel, and try to be ready for Charleston."
Radwanska is now 25-4 on the year, the second-most wins of anyone this year so far (Azarenka is 26-1) and all four losses coming against Azarenka. They are the clear cut leaders in that stat, no other player even reaching 20 yet.
"I'm happy to have played my tennis since the start of the year and winning some great matches against top players, just losing against Vika until now," Radwanska said. "I'm also happy to get to Top 6 for the first time, then Top 4. I'm just going to work hard and, step by step, try to go even higher."
Radwanska is now through to the 11th WTA final of her career, going 8-2 in her first 10 - she has won her last four finals, at Premier-level events in Carlsbad, Tokyo and Beijing last year, and over in Dubai earlier this season.
"I'm very happy to be in the final here for the first time," said Radwanska, who had never been past the quarterfinals here before. "I've played a lot of good matches here, so I just hope I can still play one more after tomorrow."
However it won't be easy for Radwanska to continue that finals streak on Saturday, as her opponent will be Maria Sharapova - she is 1-7 head-to-head against Sharapova, and has lost their last six meetings in a row.
"It's always hard to play against Maria," Radwanska said. "She hits the ball really hard and goes for it from the beginning. I'm just going to try to play aggressively and mix up everything too. We'll see what is going to work."
Radwanska's only win against Sharapova did come in the US, on another very big stage - at the 2007 US Open, on Arthur Ashe Stadium. "Of course I remember that match," the Pole said. "I was around No.30 at that time - it was center court, and she was the defending champion. I have great memories from that match, but it has nothing to do with this tournament, unfortunately, so I just hope I can have some revenge for the last couple of meetings I lost."