NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.10 seed Agnieszka Radwanska may have fallen out of the Top 10 for the first time since October 2015 on Monday - but today, she preserved her 100% winning record in Flushing Meadows first rounds with a high-quality 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over unseeded Petra Martic.
The World No.85 struck first with a break in the opening game, and found much success in the early stages of the match at net, winning each of her first 10 points in the forecourt and 14 of her 21 approaches in the opening set. But she was neither unable to consolidate her lead, nor take advantage of two further break points in the fifth game.
Radwanska, typically canny in poking and prodding at her opponent's game to find a way into the match, held that game with a dropshot and began to reel Martic's aggression in, moving up 5-2. The comeback Croat, who has raised her ranking 577 spots since her return from injury in April thanks to second week showings out of qualifying at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, still had some swashbuckling fight left in her, breaking back with a beautiful drop volley - but was unable to level the scoreline, ceding the set on her second double fault.
The 28-year-old seed then moved up a gear, enjoying a dominant spell on serve as she dropped just two points in her first three service games of the next set. The Pole began to craftily dismantle the net game that had been the foundation of her opponent's success thus far: increasingly, Martic found her approaches countered either by low shots aimed at her body or pinpoint lobs over her head.
Meanwhile, Radwanska began to find more ways to the forecourt herself, and caressed a number of delightful angled volleys over the net for winners. Frustrated, her opponent's unforced errors began to pile up - overall, she would strike 32 to Radwanska's mere 11 - and back-to-back double faults serving at 1-4 would seem to have sealed her fate.
Martic hasn't fought her way back on to the Tour by capitulating, though, and just as in the first set came roaring back, breaking Radwanska as the Pole served for the match courtesy of a big forehand winner. But in the ensuing tiebreak, her errors began to mount again, and another double fault saw her fall 1-5 down. On her second match point, Radwanska found the angle for a brilliant running forehand pass, sealing a second-round spot against Yulia Putintseva.