What’s next for Agnieszka Radwanska?
It’s fair to say that Agnieszka Radwanska could hardly have dreamed of a better 2012 season. She won the biggest title of her career to date in Miami, beating Maria Sharapova in the final before confounding the critics who said she didn’t have the game to seriously threaten at a major, reaching the Wimbledon final and pushing Serena Williams to three sets. And not only that, she came within touching distance of the world number one ranking.
So it may initially seem strange to be talking about a ‘crunch time’ for Radwanska who’s already achieved more than many people thought possible but last month’s Australian Open highlighted a question that had been bumbling around in my mind for the past six months. Has Radwanska already reached her peak?
The clever but ultimately lightweight Pole has done extraordinarily well in this era of power hitters to reach the top of the game despite possessing no real weapons. Radwanska relies on speed, almost spookily good powers of anticipation and a guile which has not been seen in women’s tennis since Martina Hingis called it a day.
However as Caroline Wozniacki has found, superb defensive skills may be good enough to enable you to reach one slam final and even win a host of smaller titles, but in the slams you’re ultimately going to come up against a more aggressively minded player who’s having an exceptionally good day who blasts you off the court. Radwanska went into last month’s Australian Open as one of the favourites after winning back to back titles in Auckland and Sydney. However Li Na hit a purple patch in their quarter-final and Radwanska simply had no answer against the Chinese star’s barrage of winners.
Unable to force the pace herself, she became trapped behind the baseline and looked short of ideas. Radwanska’s problem is that her second serve is essentially powder puff and the rest of the top five are all extremely aggressive off the return and capable of latching on to that weakness at crucial times in big matches.
Radwanska also has to work extremely hard to win every single match and during the second half of 2012 she looked burnt out, losing first round in the Olympics and fourth round at the US Open. After several years at the top of the women’s game, Wozniacki found it impossible to maintain the frenetic intensity that had got her there and she’s slipped down the rankings. Will Radwanska suffer the same fate? Possibly not as she has far more to her game than Wozniacki – better volleying and more variety for a start but it’s still hard to see her reaching another Grand Slam final unless she manages to beef up her serve or her groundstrokes.
Written by Davic Cox from Live-Tennis.com.