Brain Game: Radwanska Vs Venus
Published August 11, 2014 12:12
Williams was the more spectacular player, hitting 25 winners to Radwanska's 12, but couldn't sustain a level of play that had a real shot at taking the title.
The match was a clear contrast in game styles with Williams constantly on offense, but 41 unforced errors constantly stopped any kind of momentum she could create. Radwanska played outstanding defense for the match, only committed eight unforced errors, and was more patient and clearer with her pathway to victory.
Williams went through patches of good play during the match and then would produce a flurry of errors to gift points and games to Radwanska. Williams started well, winning six of the first eight points, and Radwanska had to come up with an incredible low, reaching backhand volley winner to not fall behind 0-40 in her opening service game.
Serving at 1-1, Williams led 30-0 with two solid first serves that produced two backhand return errors into the net from Radwanska. Williams then committed four unforced forehand errors, mostly from the middle of the court, to hand Radwanska the first break of serve of the match.
Make no mistake about it, there is no better opponent for Radwanska to play than a hard-hitting, baseliner on an off day and Williams turned out to be exactly that opponent. Radwanska thrives on court movement and defense and is quick to improve her court position to hit angled winners or sneak in to the net to finish a point. Radwanska would finish with 12 winners and was very efficient moving forward, winning 83% (5/6) of her points at the net.
Radwanska raced to a 4-1 lead in the opening set, making only one unforced error to Williams' 12, and then out of nowhere Venus' game suddenly returned. Radwanska donated two double faults and Williams crushed three clean return winners and Williams was right back in it. The American's game was a yo-yo from start to finish.
With Radwanska serving at 4-3, Williams had two break point opportunities at 15-40 to sink her teeth right back into the match but made two consecutive return errors. Three of the next four points would all be return errors as well, making five return errors out of six critical points when the opportunity to get right back into the match presented itself.
To start the second set Williams committed four errors in her opening service game to immediately fall behind a break, but got it back for 2-2 and was still if she could find the court more. You felt that if Williams could get ahead, even a game ahead on serve, she could start to build some momentum. But she lost the 2-2 game to love with four errors and the match quickly slipped away from there.
Radwanska was just too tough from the back of the court, only giving up five backhand and two forehand errors for the match. All five backhand errors were going cross court and both forehand errors were missed going down the line.
Radwanska manages a match and dissects an opponent as well as anyone on tour and when the player on the other side of the net is not at the top of their game, she makes it very difficult to find patterns to be successful. Williams came to the net 21 times to stay away from longer, grinding rallies but only won 11 of those points. A good idea, but execution was tough.
This was the first WTA title of 2014 for Radwanska and the 14th of her career. She is now third on the Road To Singapore leaderboard.
Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2014 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.