Radwanska Conquers Sharapova & Miami
Published March 31, 2012 12:00
MIAMI, FL, USA - Agnieszka Radwanska turned the tables on Maria Sharapova for her very first Sony Ericsson Open title, snapping a six-match losing streak to the Russian with a 75 64 win in the final of the Premier event.
Radwanska had lost seven of her eight previous meetings against Sharapova, including the last six in a row, but the Pole was on a roll this fortnight, not losing a set en route to the final (including a convincing straight set victory against Venus Williams, a three-time champion at the Sony Ericsson Open).
Neither player budged on serve throughout the first set, Radwanska having to fend off break points serving at 2-all and 3-all but never letting it slip; up 6-5 she pounced, drawing a series of errors from Sharapova in building 0-40, triple break point, eventually converting on her third after a Sharapova forehand into the net, the Russian's 25th unforced error of the lengthy 57-minute opening set.
The second set was much the same as both players held serve comfortably, with Radwanska saving one break point serving at 3-all; but again, right at the end it was Radwanska who pounced, breaking at 5-4 to close out the match.
"I lost against her the last few times, but today was a very tight match too, and I think I was better for just a couple of points each set," Radwanska said. "Maria is a really good player - a top player, second in the world right now. So I had pretty much nothing to lose. I was focusing on my serve, and I'm very happy I didn't lose my serve - I think it was actually the biggest key in this match.
"It's a great feeling to beat these kinds of players, especially in a final."
"I thought she played extremely well today, was very consistent, got that extra ball back and I made that extra mistake," Sharapova said. "She didn't give me many errors. When I had my chances at break point, I didn't take them. When she had them, she did. It was just one of those days. I definitely didn't return well either - when I had second serve opportunities and she's serving at 70mph and I'm not winning those points, there's something wrong with that."
Radwanska used one of her trademark shots throughout the final, throughout the tournament actually - instead of backing up when her opponents hit deep, she holds her ground, almost crouching down, and still hits through the ball. "It's just me - I used to do it, I don't know how," she said. "Nobody taught me that, not even my dad. I think I was too lazy to go backwards so I just did the squats!"
Radwanska won her ninth WTA title, and sixth at the Premier level (she won Eastbourne in 2008, Carlsbad, Tokyo and Beijing in 2011 and Dubai this year).
"It's a great feeling to win a tournament like Miami - it's the biggest one after the Grand Slams," Radwanska said. "You have to play six very good matches to win this tournament. And today I was playing really well from the beginning until the end - everything was working, I couldn't complain about anything."
Radwanska is now 26-4 on the season, tied for most match wins on the WTA this year with Victoria Azarenka, who is 26-1 (all of Radwanska's losses are to Azarenka, at Sydney, the Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells).
Radwanska is up to No.4 in the world now, maybe knocking on the door of the Top 3? "It's still far to be No.3, No.2 or No.1," she said. "But if I play like I did here, at a really good level, I hope I can reach the Top 3 very soon."
Sharapova was playing in her 40th WTA final and is now 24-16 in those. Perhaps more disappointing for Sharapova is that she is now 0-4 in finals in Miami, having finished runner-up in 2005 (to Kim Clijsters), 2006 (to Svetlana Kuznetsova) and 2011 (to Azarenka), all four losses coming in straight sets.
"You do a really good job to get there, but it's the toughest round," Sharapova said. "These last two tournaments are always tough because they're so close together, and you're playing six matches in an event - but I'm happy I got to play all six. I would have loved to be the winner, but that's just the way it goes."