Agnieszka Radwanska: The New Favorite?
Published July 01, 2013 12:03
LONDON, England - Having been overlooked as title contenders for the entire first week as they were in Serena Williams' half of the draw, Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na are now the two highest-ranked players remaining at The Championships - and they will now play each other in the quarterfinals.
The No.6-seeded Li was the first to advance, crushing No.11 seed Roberta Vinci in just 55 minutes, 62 60, blasting 26 winners to just 10 unforced errors and converting a solid six of seven break points.
"Before the match my husband was trying to hit a lot of slice to me," Li said afterwards. "It's just totally different. I wasn't feeling very good. And I knew the match would be tough today because I knew how good her slice would be on grass. But I was surprised how I was hitting the ball today - it was totally different than my last match. Last match I was so tired; today went really well on the court.
"I was ready to run for another three hours again today, but luckily that didn't happen."
The No.4-seeded Radwanska followed Li into the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 46 63 63 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova, a Bulgarian who made the semifinals here in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011.
Pironkova came out firing with her unique mix of spins on the forehand and flat, powerful backhands - she reeled off the first four games en route to a 6-4 first set. But Radwanska went right to work from there, winning the first three games of the second set and breaking early in the third set, and eventually finishing the encounter off with a sensational crosscourt slice forehand passing shot winner.
With Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova going out in the second round and Serena Williams now out in the fourth round, Radwanska is now the only Top 5 player left in the Wimbledon draw - and having been a runner-up to Williams last year, she could easily be considered the favorite at this point.
"I don't think it means anything, especially here - there have been so many weird scores," Radwanska said. "I think everybody's wondering what happened this year. And I think it's just normal for this tournament. On the grass we can see some different scores than on the other surfaces. There are some players who aren't in the Top 10 or Top 20 who play really good tennis on the grass. I think that's why we're seeing some of the top players going out of the tournament, even during the first week.
"It doesn't matter what ranking a player has. Every match is a different story."
There was another story dear to Radwanska's heart being written on the men's side on Monday. Apart from Radwanska's own run to the finals here last year, no Polish player - male or female - had even been to the semifinals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era. But with Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot setting up an all-Polish quarterfinal on the men's side, the Polish men will break that barrier too.
"I think this is a huge day for Polish tennis, especially in the men's tour," Radwanska said. "You know, a Polish quarterfinal at Wimbledon, that never happened before. So we're going to enjoy that."
And Janowicz can also be counted among Radwanska's supporters. "When she made the final last year, I was so happy for her, I was cheering for her all the time," he said. "I hope she can do it again.
"I think she's on the way to winning Wimbledon this year."