Thursday, 23 January 2014

Women's Semi Final 2 - Radwanska v Cibulkova

Who would join Li Na in the women's singles final?  Agnieszka Radwanska had experienced the 2012 Wimbledon Final so that was one more than Dominika Cibulkova.  However, with her performances so far this year, including the defeat of Sharapova, the Slovak player would not surprise should she win her way through to her first Grand Slam tournament final.  The hot favourite was Aga, though, fresh from her thrashing of Victoria Azarenka in the quarter final, and whatever the result of this semi final we would be assured of two players competing hard and both at the peak of their powers.

Agnieszka  Radwanska won the toss and she would start the second semi final with her serve.
A break straight away; the lone ace could not disguise the errors - all unforced except for the point to win the game which resulted from a crushing backhand from Cibulkova forcing the Polish mistake.
Wonderful rally on the second point of Cibulkova's serve highlighted her willingness to attack off both wings whenever she could.  Missing with the first serve was a concern but of more worry was Radwanska's level of unforced errors.  Cibulkova held after one excursion to deuce and led 2-0.
Better tennis at the start of the next game as Agnieszka now was finding her mark.  A double fault at 40-0 was repeated immediately to spoil things somewhat and it took longer than necessary to hold the serve, but at 2-1 to Cibulkova the match had begun on the scoreboard for both players.
A backhand down the line from Aga followed by an off forehand winner by Domi were interrupted by a failed drop shot attempt from Slovakia and a groundstroke long from the same place to bring up two break points - one saved by an unforced Aga error the other by a forced one.  A third break point was also sent away through great all court play finished off at the net with an overhead.
A forehand winner saved a fourth break point and we entered deuce yet again.  Clear now that Aga had settled but could not quite capture this break.
Domi saved a fifth break point through again attacking and hitting a winner, and eventually wore down the good play from Aga to hold and lead 3-1.

A surprise drop shot coupled with a menacing forehand which drew the error from Aga saw 0-30 and worry for the 5th seed. A splendid backhand down the line winner and two break points were Domi's - the first was saved but only just when a rifled forehand missed by a millimetre.  Not so lucky was Aga on the second, when again weight of shot making by Cibulkova ended up with the Polish shot in the net.
4-1 Cibulkova with two breaks of serve.
An epic backhand pass dropped in the corner to give Domi the first point of the sixth game, but Aga drew level with a lovely passing shot of her own.  Domi held on though and at 5-1 the pressure fell sparely on Aga as she served to stay in the set.

A wrong footing backhand from Domi plus a netted Aga forehand and it was 0-30.
Aga controlled the next point to its conclusion which was an out ball from Domi but one of the same shots from Aga brought up two set points.  Aga saved one well with a clean winner into an open court after she had pushed Domi into Federation Square.  The next point was one of the best as Aga gave Domi the most difficult shots to reach but the 20th seed was more than capable and finished off the set with a great backhand cross court winner 6-1.

Opening the second act of this opera, Domi delivered a rousing aria, and all Aga could do was throw roses on to the stage.  The 5'3 pocket dynamo was giving nothing away.
A forehand clean winner on the first point of Aga's reply and then two netted shots had Aga completely in a spin and the break of serve was now an expectation. 2-0
However, number 5 in the world does not come for no reason.  A winning shot plus some mistakes off the Slovak racquet put Aga right back in the contest. Three break points.  Incessant attacking saved two of them, and an impatient attempt at a outright winner from Aga had us at deuce.
Domi served and put away a volley then used an Aga errant shot to win what was an improbable third game in a row for the set and seventh in a row for the match.
Domi had been savage on Aga's serve but she lifted that to another level in the fourth game.  She cannabilised it.  Off forehand winners, service return winner, any winner you like to name.  The only points Aga could muster were errors donated by Domi.  Extremely impressive and a break of serve deserved. 4-0
Completely against the flow Aga broke back - this time she kept the ball in play and waited patiently for the errors to flow from Slovakia, and they did. 4-1 with a single break of serve.
Therein was the problem though - the ability to hold serve - something Aga had been able to do only once the entire match.  At 0-30 things again looked grim but Aga found a way through the mess to serve out the game well, including an ace for good measure.  4-2 and things were tightening.
At 15-30 Domi steadied and once again attacked which was how she had gained her position of dominance in the match.  Some wonderful deep groundstrokes more than met what Aga could throw at her and the serve was held giving Aga the job of serving to stay in the Australian Open.

A tired looking backhand netted by Aga and 0-15 and a backhand under pressure floated long 0-30. A repeat of the first error and three match points were Domi's
Another in the net and Dominika Cibulkova was into the final defeating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-2

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