Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Aga made to work

Agnieszka Radwanska the tournament fifth seed was sent out in the heat of battle to rid the Australian Open of the teenager from Kazakhstan Yulia Putintseva.  For someone as accomplished as Aga this task wasn't expected to be much of a problem.
From the outset, the 2012 Wimbledon runner up tried to keep the points short, adopting a serve volley approach.  A neat experiment but one a confident player can employ in round one of a major.  Now hold on Aga lost in her first match in Sydney didn't she?  Still that was then this was now and Yulia was going down, Polish style.

Radwanska opened with the surprise of rushing the net at all costs and held serve easily.  The tactic worked a treat next game as well and the Kazakhstan serve was broken immediately.  On a significant roll, Aga defied anything that Yulia could throw back at her, including the odd dropshot, and 3-0 was with us in an instant.

The fourth game seemed to last as long as the entire match had so far, with Yulia employing expansive forehands as her next port of call in a crisis, only to be ultimately foiled by the smarter player.  Radwanska is regarded as one of the leaders of the clever brigade on tour, and she was too crafty for Yulia, taking a 4-0 advantage, and sucking any remaining life there might have been out of set one.

An ace parcelled up the next service game for Agnieszka and at 0-5 the sympathy card was played for Yulia.  Not by Aga though who completed the whitewash with the third service break and the set demolition 6-0.

This match was doomed we assumed.

How incorrect we were.  Set two began where the first had ceased - Radwanska dominating while serving to lead 1-0, but winning her first game of the match and tying up the game score in the second set gave some indication of defiance from Putintseva.  She had the gumption to break the Polish serve in game three of the set, her forehand now causing a few issues for Radwanska.

Serves were then reasonably comfortable for the players to hold until the eight game, where Aga's returning returned to its immaculate best, causing a whole lot of trouble for Yulia, and levelling the set at 4-4.
Aga served three aces in a row and so easily made it 5-4, before Yulia struck back to say 5-5.  Then a break we never saw coming came, with several good forehands being the driver for Yulia to deliver the charge.

From virtually nowhere, Putintseva served out the set and it was one set apiece - incredible.

Radwanska did not let the set loss draw her away from her bigger focus - the match - and she continued to serve well.  Putintseva continued to be effective with the forehand until the fourth game where Radwanska showed why she is entrenched in the top few in the world.  Her willingness to chase, and once there execute so beautifully was handy in this game which was the first service break of the deciding set.

All downhill after that for Yulia as Aga sprinted away in the oppressive heat, just in time catching a glimpse of her vanquished opponent wilting in response to the same conditions.  Radwanska into the second round after an enthralling battle 6-0 5-7 6-2.

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