For a player of Agnieszka Radwanska’s calibre, ten months seems like a long gap between semi-final appearances.
However, that is exactly what the Pole has endured between her last-four appearance in New Haven in August 2017 and her run this week at the Nature Valley International.
Today, the former World No.2 beat 5th seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 7-5 in an entertaining match on Court One and looked more like her best self than she has all year.
“I guess the rest did a good job for me,” Radwanska said. “I feel healthier and more relaxed. I think it’s important to be fresh. Then you’re motivated more.”
Accordingly, Radwanska’s movement during her match with Ostapenko was excellent. She chased the ball down point after point in typical style, which forced the Latvian to play extra shots in rallies.
This approach drew a lot of mistakes from the 5th seed’s racket. It is something we are used to seeing from Ostapenko, whose matches are often decided by whether she hits more winners than unforced errors.
Today, the Latvian made more errors than winners. She also had trouble on serve throughout and remarkably only won 43% of points in her service games.
Radwanska took full advantage of these difficulties and broke Ostapenko seven times in the match.
“I think she was definitely returning better than serving,” the Pole said. “I was trying to be aggressive and not let her play, especially against the wind, and I think I did a good job.”
Radwanska: I’m never going to be a power player
Although she was not at her best this time around, the Latvian is exactly the kind of player the Pole frequently struggles to beat as she cannot match her power.
“Even if I wanted to, there is no chance I’m going to hit as powerful as the other ones,” Radwanska said.
“I can always try to be more aggressive on court, but I’m never going to serve or hit a forehand like those couple of girls bombing those balls.”
However, the Pole believes women on the tour with a style like hers can still thrive. “You can really see a lot of styles,” she said. “There are a lot of good ones that are playing (my) kind of tennis.”
Despite this, Radwanska believes that the ever-improving standard of the WTA tour will make it harder than ever before to climb back up the rankings.
“Of course I would love to be back in the top 10,” she said. “But I’ve missed a lot of tournaments this year and I just hope I can play all those I want to before the end of the year.”
“But I know how tough it is. There are a lot of players who deserve to be top 10 and a lot of new names around: young, up-and-coming players playing great tennis.”
The Pole continued, “I think what’s changed is that when I see those 17-, 18-year-old girls, they are very mature. They play like they really have a lot of experience.”
“A couple of years ago, 17-year-olds were not at that level. So I think tennis is getting better and better and you really have to play 100% because otherwise you are never going to go off the court as a winner.”
Coco Gauff reaches Rome Semi-Finals after Barty retires
Coco Gauff is into her first WTA1000 semi-final after Ash Barty retired during their match.
The 17 year old American was down a set and 2-1 when the world number one decided to call it.
Coco Gauff is into the semi finals of the BNL D’Italia open after her opponent the world number one and Aussie Ash Barty decided to pull out after leading 6-4, 2-1 with a right arm injury.
Under wet and rainy conditions the match began and you had a sense the rain was going to play a big factor in this one and it was the American who had three early chances to break in the first game of the match but the Aussie saved all three and held her opening service game.
The very next game it was Barty turn to apply pressure on the Gauff serve but the American did a good job saving the breakpoint and holding her serve before eventually breaking the Aussie serve the very next game.
The world number one responded the very next game breaking right back and that’s when the rain started to pour and the match was suspended.
Two hours later play resumed and literally after playing one game there was another slight delay for a down pour and a couple of minutes later play resumed one more time.
It stayed on serve until 5-4 with the American serving to stay in the set and it was the world number one putting more pressure and after saving four set points the Aussie would break with a stunning cross court forehand winner to take the first set.
The second set stayed on serve until 2-1 when Barty called for the trainer and after a brief discussion to everyone surprise decided to retire with a right arm injury.
Gauff now awaits the winner of the quaterfinal match between Elina Svitolina and Iga Swiatek.
Iga Swiatek Saves Two Match Points To Edge Out Krejcikova In Rome
Iga Swiatek survived a 2 hour and 50 minute clash to advance to the Rome Quarter-Finals.
Iga Swiatek saved two match points to defeat Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 to reach the last eight in Rome.
The defending Roland Garros champion battled and clawed to victory in 2 hours and 52 minutes after saving two match points.
Swiatek will now play the winner of the match between Garbine Muguruza and Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals tomorrow.
A summary of the match would be a lot of errors and tentative play throughout as the Pole was too aggressive in the opening set allowing a lot of unforced errors into her game.
Meanwhile Krejcikova was solid but was aggressive with the right angles in the right moments.
This proved crucial for the Czech Republican as she took advantage of Iga’s inability to produce first serves.
A crucial hold at 4-2 was enough for Krejcikova as there were six breaks of serve in the opening set. A long ninth game ended with the Czech taking the set 6-3.
In the second set it was more of the same with Swiatek as she was not able to produce her best tennis.
After going down an early break, Swiatek knew she had to build the points up slowly and gain her confidence. This is what occurred as she got the break back immediately and started to hold serve more comfortably.
Even though the world number 15 looked more confident with her shots and started to construct points better she could not successfully get into Krejcikova’s service games.
Towards the end of the set Swiatek saved two match points as this dramatic contest went to a second set tiebreak.
Swiatek’s mini-break lead was reduced but her fighting spirit was not as Krejcikova felt the pressure and a double fault from her gave the Pole a lifeline as she forced a deciding set.
After spending the change of ends being emotional, Swiatek regained similar form in the final set with her drop-shots being effective.
Krejcikova held nerve of her own as she continued to force the Pole to make unforced errors and just be as solid as she could be.
Swiatek saved three break points in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and then pounced in the 12th game with some heavy returns to take the match and move into the last eight.
Next for the Pole after a mammoth clash will be Garbine Muguruza or Elina Svitolina as she climbs into a new career ranking of 14 in the world.
In other results today Coco Gauff knocked out Madrid Champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 for one of the best wins of her career.
The vibrant American faces world number one Ash Barty who continued her amazing season with with a 6-3 6-3 win over Veronika Kudermetova.
Serena Williams’ 1000th Match Ends In Defeat To Podoroska
Serena Williams was defeated in Rome as she reaches a landmark milestone of 1000 WTA matches.
Serena Williams’ 1000th WTA tour match has ended in a 7-6(6) 7-5 defeat to Nadia Podoroska in Rome.
The American made her return to tour for the first time in 84 days as she looked to build momentum heading into Roland Garros.
If the first few games were to set the tempo of the match then it would prove to be a long contest with Serena struggling to get any free points on her serve.
It was the Argentinian who got the first break of the match in the third game as she tested Serena’s stamina early on in the contest.
In typical Serena fashion, the 23-time grand slam champion produced some stunning ground-strokes especially from central positions to break to love straight away.
On serve, Serena looked fairly comfortable as she ended the match with eight aces although she only made a first serve percentage of 48%.
That was her key downfall as it was Podoroska who looked the more comfortable on return as she used some devastating angles to force unforced errors from the Serena racket.
A break for a 5-4 lead ensured that the last year’s Roland Garros semi-finalist would serve for the opening set.
However Serena used her power and good point construction to once again break back which was met with a roar from the world number eight.
Eventually the first set would head towards a tiebreaker with Podoroska dominating the majority of it.
She had three set points which came and went as Serena used her fighting qualities to roar back into the match.
But once again some unforced errors would cost the four-time champion as Podoroska took the next two point to claim the opening set in 66 minutes.
In the second set, Serena was the early aggressor as she dictated points better setting the pace of the match.
Again though Podoroska extended the rallies and made the American move all round the court exposing as much space as possible.
The Argentinian was rewarded for her court coverage when she broke in the sixth game as Serena began to tire.
As in the first set, Podoroska couldn’t serve out the second set as her cautious play lead to Serena levelling it up at 5-5.
However Serena’s serve was just not working when she needed it too and Podoroska secured the final blow to seal a fantastic victory for her.
For Serena its onto Roland Garros as she will look to improve her fitness in the next couple of weeks.
As for Podoroska she will play Petra Martic after the Croatian beat Kristina Mladenovic today 7-5 6-3.
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