INDIAN WELLS - Agnieszka Radwanska grabbed the first semifinal spot of the BNP Paribas Open after a straight sets win over Petra Kvitova, but her reward is even sweeter - the win vaults her all the way back up to the World No.2 ranking.
In a rematch of their encounter in the final of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, longtime rivals Kvitova and Radwanska squared off for the tenth time. Although Kvitova owns the head-to-head advantage 6-3, she's quite familiar with how crafty Radwanska can be.
"I just hope I can really play my good tennis against her, because otherwise I will be in big trouble," Kvitova said ahead of the match. "But I think always against her you always really have to play good tennis and be careful, definitely on her serve."
After saving match point in the first round against Dominika Cibulkova, Radwanska's road to her sixth BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals has been fairly straightforward. By contrast, all of Kvitova's matches have gone to a third set. And despite her "P3tra" nickname, that's not a good omen for the Czech - she's only won one WTA tournament (Montreal in 2012) after being involved in three or more three set matches.
Sure enough, Kvitova's long hours on court showed their effect as Radwanska raced ahead in the first set to a 5-1 lead. The Czech's big game grew to be too costly, and she sprayed 22 unforced errors to the always-tidy Radwanska's 4. Those margins left her no room to breathe, and she eventually dropped the first set 6-2.
The No.9 ranked Czech dug her heels in during the second set, breaking twice for a 4-2 lead. Just as it looked like she would level up the score, Radwanska came roaring back, drawing from her extensive arsenal of trick shots to send the clash into a tiebreaker. Luck just wasn't on Kvitova's side - she was starting to mount a comeback after finding herself down 4-0 in the tiebreak, but two let cords and a backhand dumped into the net gave Radwanska the victory, 6-3, 7-6(3).
"I have good experience in the first match, almost losing 5-3 in the third. So I was pretty calm," Radwanska said of her second-set comeback. "Obviously that's just one break, so you just keep going. And I was a little big lucky, in the end."
The win not only sends Radwanska into the BNP Paribas Open semifinal for the third time in her career, it also boosts her ranking up to World No.2 for the first time since 2012, overtaking Angelique Kerber.
? WTA (@WTA) March 16, 2016