Saturday, 30 June 2018

Sabalenka d Radwanska to reach Eastbourne final

Semi final day in England and Turkey, and first up at seaside Eastbourne the unseeded clash between 2012 Wimbledon finalist Aga Radwanska and first time Premier level semi finalist Aryna Sabalenka.

The Belarusian won the toss and chose to serve, Radwanska to receive.

The first game was a struggle for Sabalenka, a winner at the net and two forehand winners not enough to save the second of two break points.  A Radwanska lob was an early pointer to what we might see from the delightful Polish racquet.

Sabalenka forehand attack forced an immediate break back and 1-1.

Refreshing to see Sabalenka on grass - her game is well suited to the surface and she is unafraid to move forward and finish points.

However, with the attack comes risk, and the backhand failed on another break point, giving Radwanska the lead 2-1.

An awesome game from Sabalenka - she made ground to a Radwanska drop shot and hit a winner down the line, then pounded a return backhand return winner.  A forehand sizzler set up three break points, and another stunning backhand achieved the fourth successive service break for 2-2.

A Sabalenka winner, then Radwanska replied to a drop shot with a wonderful cross court forehand.  Two double faults and a wayward forehand brought up break point.  A lucky net cord and a fifth service break for 3-2 Radwanska.

Sabalenka sending winners all over Eastbourne and giving Radwanska little chance on her serve, yet again breaking for 3-3.

However on her own delivery when missing her first attempt she had lost all eleven points, until saving the first of two break points in the seventh game.  Sabalenka held serve on the back of winners incredibly numbering now in the twenties.  She led 4-3

Radwanska dropped her fourth serve from four attempts and Sabalenka served out the set, clinching it with an ace on the final point - the first from either player for the match.  6-3 to the impressive Belarusian.

Continued trend in set two as Sabalenka broke and won her fifth straight game 1-0.  Perhaps a loss of focus and suddenly three break points for Radwanska - the second was enough as Sabalenka netted a relatively simple shot 1-1.

Finally a service hold for Radwanska and she led 2-1, a dug out drop shot the special from the game.

The renowned variety possessed by Radwanska was now beginning to bloom in the match, previously handcuffed through irresistible tennis from Sabalenka.

Radwanska broke again and led 3-1.  There was at last a contest on court.

4-1 on the back of unforced Sabalenka unforced errors.

Radwanska won the set 6-1 and the match was level.

Aga led 3-2 and 40-0 in the decider, but Aryna surged from the brink and broke for 3-3.

Sabalenka similarly led 40-0 on serve, but two double faults helped her struggle to deuce.

However she held serve, the final point won with a stunning backhand/forehand combination. 4-3.

Sabalenka broke serve again, a backhand return winner (her 50th winner), a backhand screamer, a backhand forcing an error, and possibly the backhand of the match, passing an amazed Radwanska.

Serving for the match, Sabalenka briefly lost her nerve and a netted backhand plus one sent wide had her down 0-30.

A passing Belarusian backhand plus a Polish error put her on track again but an overhead into the net gave Aga a break point.

That was saved, then a stunning forehand down the line brought up match point and that was all required as the next point was also hers.

6-3 1-6 6-3 to Aryna Sabalenka.

This is not the first impact that she has made on me.

I saw her live at the Australian Open this year when she took the first set off Ash Barty with her power game.  She eventually lost, but her impact was not, and she is now in the Eastbourne final as proof.

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