Madrid Semifinal Preview
Published May 11, 2012 11:36
MADRID, Spain - Saturday's morning session at the Mutua Madrid Open will see all four semifinalists in action. First up is the latest installment of Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska's ongoing rivalry, before being followed by Serena Williams against this week's surprise package Lucie Hradecka.
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) d.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 10-3
Agnieszka Radwanska has lost just five matches in 2012. Unfortunately, for the Pole, her semifinal opponent in Madrid is the woman responsible for all five of these defeats: Victoria Azarenka. Yet while the form book does not auger well, a supreme tactician such as Radwanska will undoubtedly believe she can find the solution to the Belarusian's riddle.
She will also have taken heart from the problems Azarenka experienced for a set and a half of her quarterfinal with Li Na. And while Radwanska does not have Li's heavy artillery from the back of the court, she possesses more than enough craft and guile to wrong-foot the top seed on Madrid's notoriously slippery blue clay.
Nevertheless, as their head-to-head record testifies, Azarenka knows how to beat Radwanska. Their last three matches have been one-sided and, while she has looked vulnerable this week, Azarenka's power, movement and mental toughness make her the favorite.
[Q] Lucie Hradecka (CZE #105) vs.  Serena Williams (USA #9)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 1-0
When Lucie Hradecka stepped on court last Friday for the first round of qualifying, her goals for the week were probably to qualify for the main draw and get a few matches under her belt. One week and six wins later she is on the verge of the biggest final of her career.
Standing between her and said final, though, is the imposing figure of Serena Williams. After a slow start to the tournament, Williams' game really clicked into gear on Friday as she thrashed in-form Maria Sharapova with a devastating display of attacking clay court tennis.
If she delivers a repeat performance on Saturday, Hradecka will be up against it. But if her level drops even a fraction, the Czech is more than capable of capitalizing. Throughout her run to the final Hradecka has shown scant regard for lofty reputations, and in her wins over Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur proved more than capable of trading blows with the WTA's heaviest hitters and coming out on top.