In their first world group appearance in 21 years, Poland have an almighty mountain to climb on Sunday as they find themselves down 0-2 against a powerful Russian side. Svetlana Kuznetsova’s 6-4 2-6 6-2 upset victory over a lacklustre Agnieszka Radwanska in the first match of the tie put Poland on the back foot. Ula then proved to be no match for Maria Sharapova in the second match of the day, succumbing 0-6 3-6. Aga must now beat Maria Sharapova to give Poland a fighting chance on Sunday.
Aga’s performance on Saturday was extremely disappointing. The Pole hit an uncharacteristic 43 unforced errors in what was one of her worst performances in recent times. After comfortably winning the second set and with the local crowd right behind her, the stage was set for Aga to go on and win the match. However Kuznetsova was not to be denied, she was the braver of the two and she was awarded the victory to put Russia in a commanding position.
Maria Sharapova raced out of the blocks in the second match of the day, steamrolling through the opening set in impressive fashion. Ula raised her level in the second set and momentarily led Sharapova midway through the opening set 3-2. However Sharapova would ultimately prove too strong for her younger opponent, cruising to a 6-3 6-0 victory to give Russia a 2-0 lead heading into Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers.
Maria Sharapova has a commanding 11-2 head to head record over Aga. However the one sided record makes the head-to-head look more lopsided than it really is. 5 of Maria’s victories have been in three sets, the two have played out some exhausting matches, especially at the year end championships. The surface in Krakow is similar to those in Istanbul and Singapore where Aga has pushed Maria over the past few years.
Their most recent encounter took place in Singapore where Sharapova prevailed 7-5 6-7 6-2. However Maria needed to win in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals whilst one set was enough for Aga to advance to the final four. Maria looked destined for a semi-final appearance when she led 7-5 5-1, however Aga produced a spirited fightback to take the second set in a tiebreaker and end Sharapova’s season.
Aga has not defeated Maria since the 2012 Miami final where she stunned the Russian to win the biggest title of her career to date. The Pole has always troubled Maria on slow hard courts and has a reasonable chance to halt a string of four consecutive losses to Maria.
However after Aga’s spiritless performance on Saturday it’s hard to see her taking a set of Maria let alone winning the match. Originally I thought Aga would win this, however I have to change my mind after yesterday’s results.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Aga Radwanska in 2 sets