AGAINST TECHNICALLY accomplished players and opponents armed to the teeth with firepower, Agnieszka Radwanska falls drastically short. It showed up in the last seven days when she lost two out of her three round-robin group matches against Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta.
The world No 6 (above) only managed to sneak into this afternoon’s semi-finals at the expense of Pennetta and Simona Halep, on account of winning more sets in her three matches. The three ended the group stage with one win and two losses each.
In the semi-final what helped Radwanska beat the hard-hitting but tired Garbine Mugurusa 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 to book her place in Sunday evening’s final (6:30pm, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium) was what she had inside her head: Tactical brilliance.
This is her extraordinary ability to think quicker than the insane speed of the ball in the era of fast-pace tennis. It allows a David to occasionally show up to upstage the Goliaths of the game. And Radswanska is a rare talent who, on her best day, can summon this genius, as she did against the gifted Muguruza.
The ability to analyse all the moving parts on court — ball and opponent — in a split-second before executing a shot that catches out her opponent, is her forte. And it will be key to whether she can overcome the technical prowess of Petra Kvitova in tomorrow’s final.
Petra packs an aggressive punch in her play. Photo Lagadere Sports
Kvitova handed Sharapova a 6-3, 7-6 shock defeat in the other semi-final and the Czech is acutely aware of the danger she faces against Radwanska.
“She’s a difficult opponent, for sure, very smart and has a lot the variety on the court,” Kvitova, who calls her Final opponent “La Profesora”, told the media after her semi-final win. “She gets so many balls in, so sometimes it feels that she’s a never-ending story on the court. Aga’s (Radwanska) game is really about patience, being kind of sharp, but playing a lot of shots and rallies. It’s difficult.”
The Czech knows that Radwanska uses patience to good effect, mixing it with her deadly drop shots and cross-court volleys to make up for the lack of power in her game.
The quick-thinking smart game is necessary against players like Muguruza and Kvitova and the incredible shot at times also amazes the 26-year-old Pole: “Yeah, sometimes it is like, ‘Oh, my God. It’s in!’ But tennis is so fast, you don’t really have time to think. That’s just the reaction. We have not even a second to make shot, a decision, and it’s just suddenly there. But, well, I’m just always very happy to make those shots.”
An Uphill Battle
In the final, Radwanska faces an uphill battle and needs all the wits she can summon against Kvitova. Sharapova knows this. In defeat, the Russian said the 25-year-old Czech packs loads of power and this will be her calling card in the Final.
Added the 28-year-old: “She’s a very aggressive player. She has a lot of depth and power and she goes for her shots. I think when she commits to her game and she executes, it’s a very powerful game.”
The Final has come down to a battle between Radwanska’s brainpower against the technical brawn of Kvitova. Both have surprised in the week-long championship and it will take a brave man or woman to pick a sure winner.