NEW YORK, NY, USA – Tatjana Maria produced an impressive performance to knock Agnieszka Radwanska out of the US Open at the first-round stage, 6-3, 6-3.
The German got off to a slow start but then reeled off five successive games to manufacture a decisive advantage in the opening set, then battled hard in the next to outlast her opponent.
Radwanska, the WTA World No.48, got off to an encouraging beginning but ultimately spent much of the first set frustrated by her opponent.
“I felt really warm, I never felt that bad this year,” Radwanska said about the conditions. “Definitely just bad - dizzy, heavy legs. “It was probably both the heat and lack of matches - one thing didn’t help the other thing.
“Obviously I didn’t do anything to win that match. I was struggling more than my opponent, and when you are feeling like this you can’t win the match.”
Maria, who won five straight games after dropping the first two, found an excellent balance to her game and profited particularly from her backhand slice. She was aggressive on the return of second serve, visited the net with success and was precise in much of what she did.
Having lost the first set comfortably, the Pole showed more aggression at the outset of the second in a bid to take time away from the WTA World No.70.
Despite the move to impose herself on the match, though, there was a sense that she was fighting to keep in touch, which was magnified as she fell break point down in the fifth game when she volleyed well wide. When presented with an easy chance to salvage the situation, she blasted into the net.
A medical break was requested by Radwanska in the aftermath of that error, but after having had her vitals checked, she was deemed fit to continue. And she then produced her best moments of tennis in the match to break back.
The revival, though, proved to be short lived. Maria scampered brilliantly to flick a winner en route to fashioning a 0-40 lead, and although that was eliminated, a fine lob created a fourth chance, which was taken.
Radwanska’s body might have been ailing, but her mind was not, evidenced again by another fightback from 40-0 down, though like the one in the previous game, it was fruitless.
Maria’s momentum was irresistible, and she broke again using the now-familiar tactic of slicing off a second serve before moving into the net and closing the match out with an acute volley winner.
“If my ranking drops to 30 or 50, it doesn’t really matter at the moment,” Radwanska said. “It’s just about playing tournaments and having matches and being able to feel better on court. I think that’s the start, and then you can think about the rest. I definitely need to do something so I can feel 100% on court - once I have this, I think then it’s going to be better.
“Here, there’s something here in the air that I don’t feel good. Especially today, I can’t really remember this kind of match, where everything fall apart. Not just at this tournament, but this year. It’s been totally a disaster.”
Up next for Maria is Elina Svitolina, who she shocked in the first round of Wimbledon barely eight weeks ago.