Monday, January 24, 2011

Radwanska and Zvonareva advance to Quarter Finals.

Maybe Agnieszka Radwanska should come into the Australian Open with no match practice every year. In yet another remarkable comeback for the 12th seed, the Pole fought off two match points and put down Shuai Peng 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to gain her second quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
That the wily 21-year-old has been able to win four straight matches in her first tournament back since undergoing foot surgery in October is incredible, especially given that when she came to Melbourne to practice just prior to the event, she wasn't even sure until the day before the draw ceremony that she'd be able to play.

But Radwanska is more driven that she appears outwardly and it showed against the ambitious Peng, as after letting go of a 3-1 lead in the third set, she stormed back from a 5-3 deficit and took the last four games.

Peng served for the match at 5-4, but Radwanska fought off a match point with a precise forehand volley winner and then on Peng's second match point, she charged the net again and nailed an overhead, forcing her foe into a backhand error.

While Radwanska isn't tall and is fairly slight, she has can bear down and close and did so in the final game, ripping a backhand crosscourt winner to gain her first match point. Peng, who was playing in her first Grand Slam round of 16, nailed a forehand winner to fend it off, but the Pole gained another and forced the Chinese into a backhand winner for the victory.

After she underwent foot surgery, former world No.8 Radwanska was told by the doctor that it was likely that she wouldn't be able to return until the Miami tournament in late March. But she badly wanted to play the Australian Open and when her doctor gave her a 1 percent chance to play she responded, "If you give me a 1 percent to play in January, I'm going to play."

"The worst thing for a player is to miss a Grand Slam and I didn't not want to watch the Australian Open from home on TV," she said. "I wouldn't be able to stand that."

When Vera Zvonareva and Iveta Benesova met in the second round of Australian Open 2010, the gap between them looked huge. The Russian who would go on to finish the year at No.2 in the world just outpowered her opponent, allowing her a mere 3 games.

A year later, the 27-year-old Czech lefty played her first career Grand Slam round of 16. Ranked No.60 in the world, she was the lowest-ranked player left in the women's draw. And, after struggling to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the previous round, Benesova was ready to confirm her Grand Slam breakthrough, and make her way into the quarter-finals.

But before she knew it, on a lively Hisense Arena, she was down 2-0 against a Zvonareva who merely kept the the ball in play and waited for the mistake. Making her way into the match quietly but surely, Benesova began distributing her smooth groundstrokes with more accuracy, and retrieving everything. Visibly frustrated, Zvonareva began to look impatient, too eager to force her game on her opponent. Quickly she lost the next four games as Benesova found some beautiful angles. "I though I was a little bit slow and a little bit passive at that time" Zvonareva said later.

Little did anyone expect the Russian to breeze through the rest of the match dropping just one game. Yet, this is what happened. Serving much better as the match went on, Zvonareva became more alert, imposing on her opponent the pace and depth which led her to world No.2. Benesova just couldn't sustain the rhythm, and often she found herself two metres from the ball. Zvonareva captured the set 6-4 after 40 minutes on a beautiful winning inside out forehand.

Beaming with confidence, she broke in the fourth and sixth games of the second set. But although hardly threatened on serve, she had to save two break points serving at 5-1, before concluding the match with yet another forehand winner on her second match point, after an hour and 16 minutes of play.


Carlos said...

I watched part of the Radwanska match, missed the comeback my flu took over and won! I thought Peng would win because I thought she had more power than Aggie. Both Aggie and Peng have similar game style, the finesse game. They rely on trickery while both lack power. This was not a clean match both were making tons of errors. When it came to close the second set Peng missed various opportunities to win the set. It took her five set points to finally win it while missing some easy set points. Based on that I'm not surprise Peng choke on those two match points. Peng needs experience in this type of situations and is a player to keep an eye on this year. As for Aggie she already over achieved, I thought she was going down in the first round to Kimiko. Is a nice run for Aggie but it will end on the hands of Kim.

Chinese women have done well in AO this year and specially last year.

Speaking of Chinese women Li Na put a hurting on Azarenka eliminating her in straights, in the fourth round. Na has not lost a set since stepping in Australian soil. When will Azarenka have an easy draw?

I was disappointed when I saw the final score on the Benesova match, not that I thought she would win but I expected more from her against Vera. The old Latin-American saying, "The shoes were too big" meaning Benesova wasn't ready for the big stage.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Aww Carlos, you're still sick!? Must be horrible! Get well soon! Peng probably did choke due to a lack of experience at this level. I saw this match, the first I have seen of Peng, and totally off topic, but, she has the WORST hairline ever! She should get a wig or treatment or something. I am happy to see Aggie play so well, and although its highly likely that she will loose to Kim, if Kim is having an off day, Aggie will have a chance! Also IMO I have always thought that Aggie is better than The Bunny. Peng, is definatly going to go higher and higher in the rankings. And like you I had Kimiko beating Aggie.

I know! The AO must be a good luck charm for the Chinese players!

I honestly thought Azarenka would have done better than that! But I think Azarenka will be top 4 by US Open, yes that is a huge statement to make! but she has hardly any points the defend in Indian Wells, Miami, Clay Court season, Wimbledon, US Open series and US Open! has an amazing opportunity to make a huge impact on the tour this year, and this does feel like her year!

I thought it would be straight sets for Vera, but closer sets, definatly not 6-1! Ahaha. Benesova, like Peng, lacked experience at the big stage. But Vera has been so under the radar! She has been inform all week, and no one has given her a hope winning, situations like this could help her!

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