Monday, 16 January 2012

Radwanska survives Mattek-Sands in Australia

Agnieszka Radwanska
The first four days of a Grand Slam are the most exciting days for me because there is just so much going on! Therefore it is impossible to cover all the goings on in every match! Most notably on the first day of action at the Australian Open, Agnieszka Radwanska survived a brutal three hour encounter with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-7 6-4 6-2 to advance to the second round. The  75-minute first set had literally everything you could ask for in a set of tennis with some excellent drop shots, thunderous groundstrokes, crafty net play and some high class choking too! Mattek Sands has all the weapons in her artillery, but her tactics and shot selection were woeful, in particular when she was in a winning position at 5-2 in the first set.  The tiebreak was extremely entertaining though with the momentum constantly swinging between the two players, but surprisingly it was Mattek-Sands, who had wasted 7 set points that finally took the first set.

After the first set I had to get some sleep, but I was not surprised to find Radwanska come through in three sets.  Mattek-Sands appeared to run out of steam, but Radwanska tightened her game up with 15 winners to just 1 unforced eror in the third set.  A couple of years ago or even last year, Radwanska would have lost a match like this, but she showed great fight to get through this match against a hard-hitting and dangerous opponent like Mattek-Sands, however ugly it may have been at times! Mattek-Sands hit an astonishing 81 winners throughout the course of the match, but did not have enough consistency in her game to get past the brick wall of Radwanska.

In other matches, Caroline Wozniacki finished off the first day's action with an impressive performance to grind out Anastasia Rodionova, 6-2 6-1.  Wozniacki made a tentative start, but by the end, she was looking very comfortable on court and there were no signs that her wrist injury was troubling her.  Victoria Azarenka was also in excellent form as she thrashed Heather Watson, 6-1 6-0.  Watson started well, but faded throughout the contest against an opponent who played with both aggression and precision.  British hopes were well and truly dashed on the first day as Anne Keothavong retired after losing the first set to Mona Barthel, Elena Baltacha lost to Stephanie Foretz-Gacon, 6-2 6-4 and Jelena Jankovic eased past a disappointing Laura Robson, 6-2 6-0.  Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Kim Clijsters were among the seeded winners on day one.

There were several seeded casualties on day one with the biggest surprise coming from Nina Bratchikova who defeated the number 19 seed, Flavia Pennetta, 6-3 1-6 6-2.  Pennetta had missed last week's tournament in Sydney with a back injury so I wonder if this defeat had something to do with that.  The number 28 seed, Yanina Wickmayer was knocked out by Galina Voskoboeva, 7-5 6-2 and the number 24 seed Lucie Safaorva, who reached the quarter-finals last week in Sydney was upset by the talented American Christina McHale, 6-2 6-4.  I was on the fence with this last match and I am a fan of McHale so I am annoyed that I went against her in the end!

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