🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne SF Preview 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka
Agnieszka Radwanska and Aryna Sabalenka will do battle for the first time when they meet in Friday’s first semi-final at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. This is a fascinating battle because of the extreme contrast in styles between the pair, the consistency, versatility and touch of Radwanska against the super-aggressive, powerful game of Sabalenka. Who will prevail?
It has been a great week for Radwanska. The Pole arrived in Eastbourne having not played a match since Istanbul over 2 months ago due to injury. Radwanska kicked off the event with a comfortable straight set win over Timea Babos before fighting from a set down and fending off match points in a 5-7 7-6 6-0 win over Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska received a walkover into the quarter-finals courtesy of a Petra Kvitova withdrawal, the former world number 2 secured her spot in the final 4 with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jelena Ostapenko.
Aryna Sabalenka has threatened to cause big damage at this level for a while now, finally things have fallen into place for the Belarusian in Eastbourne. Sabalenka has done things the hard way, battling through 4 consecutive matches in 3 sets. Sabalenka started the event with wins from a set down over Sachia Vickery and Julia Goerges. The 20-year-old went on to win a pair of matches decided in a final set tiebreak, a 7-5 2-6 7-6 win over Elise Mertens and a 6-3 2-6 7-6 win over Karolina Pliskova, the biggest win of Sabalenka’s career to date.
It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out as they pair go head-to-head for the first time.
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne QF Preview 🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska
A blockbuster quarter-finals clash opens proceedings on Thursday at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne as the 5th seeded Jelena Ostapenko takes on former finalist: Agnieszka Radwanska. Interestingly, it is Ostapenko who enters this match as the favourite, can a resurgent Radwanska pull of the upset?
Ostapenko and Radwanska are both starting their grass court campaign’s in Eastbourne. Ostapenko has rocketed in the final 8, a 6-3 7-5 win over Kaia Kanepi followed by a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Mihaela Buzarnescu. Radwanska started the week with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 win over Timea Babos before fighting to a 5-7 7-6 6-0 win over Daria Gavrilova. After blowing a big lead in the opening set it was a gutsy win for Radwanska against Gavrilova, a meaningful win, a good sign that she was tough enough to get through that challenge.
The only previous meeting between the pair took place in New Haven in 2016. Radwanska won that match 7-5 6-1, her defensive skills really troubled Ostapenko on that occasion. It will be interesting to see how this match unfolds given the two have gone in different directions since their last meeting.
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
🇬🇧 Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2 Preview 🇦🇺 (15) Daria Gavrilova vs. 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska continues her Eastbourne campaign on Tuesday with a second round clash against the 15th seeded Daria Gavrilova. Radwanska is competing in her first tournament since Istanbul two months ago and made a good start the event with a comfortable straight set win over Timea Babos in the opening round. Gavrilova received a bye in the opening round and will need to quickly find a high level to get past this tough first hurdle at the Nature Valley International.
Gavrilova started her grass court campaign last week in Birmingham. The Aussie had an okay week, a good opening round win over Dominika Cibulkova in two tight sets followed by a straight set loss to the eventual champion Petra Kvitova, no shame in that loss. However, grass has typically been Gavrilova’s weakest surface, there is little to suggest that will change anytime soon.
Grass has always been Radwanska’s best surface and she took little time to get adjusted in Eastbourne. The Pole easily disposed of Timea Babos in her first match in almost two months, claiming a 6-3 6-1 win over the Hungarian. Radwanska will face a different test against Gavrilova, an opponent she has struggled against in the past.
It was Gavrilova who won the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6-4 6-4 win at the semi-final stage in New Haven last year. Can Radwanska reverse that result on her favourite surface?
To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
Australian Open 🇦🇺 R3 Preview
🇵🇱 (26) Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇹🇼 Su-Wei Hsieh
Su-Wei Hsieh caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament when she eliminated Garbine Muguruza in straight sets in the second round. Hsieh will be back in action on Saturday where she will face a very different test against the 26th seeded Agnieszka Radwanska. Interestingly, these two have only gone head-to-head once previously, back In 2013 where Radwanska on in straight sets. Can Hsieh cause another big upset to reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2008?
Radwanska has certainly not been at her best in the opening stages of the event. However, Radwanska has fought hard and managed to come from a set down in both of her matches to reach the third round. The two-time former semi-finalist started the week with a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win over Kristyna Pliskova before beating Lesia Tsurenko 2-6 7-5 6-3. Radwanska seemed destined for the exit door when Tsurenko served for the match at 5-4 in the second set after the Pole squandered a 4-1 lead. However Tsurenko threw in a nervy game and Radwanska was good enough to capitalize as she controlled the match after that moment.
Su-Wei Hsieh is yet another player enjoying her greatest success at the later stages of her career. Hsieh claimed her first ever top 5 victory to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2008 as she defeated the 3rd seeded Garbine Muguruza. Hsieh started the week with a topsy-turvy 0-6 6-0 8-6 win over Lin Zhu before beating Muguruza 7-6 6-4. Hsieh’s win over Muguruza was certainly the biggest win of her career, Hsieh’s awkward game bamboozled Muguruza in the extreme heat.
The only previous match between the pair took place in Miami in 2013. Radwanska won 6-3 6-2.
Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇵🇱 (26) Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko
Agnieszka Radwanska and Lesia Tsurenko will go head-to-head in an interesting second round clash at Melbourne Park on Thursday. Radwanska and Tsurenko both required 3 sets to get through their opening round matches, both were forced to come from a set down. Both will look to raise their level heading into this difficult second round match.
Radwanska has a brilliant record in Melbourne, the Pole is a two-time former semi-finalist at the event but is the lowly 26th seed at this years event. Radwanska got off to a very shaky start in her first round match, the Pole was blitzed by Kristyna Pliskova early but recovered to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win. Radwanska’s form during the Australian summer has been solid enough having reached the quarter-finals in Auckland and Sydney prior to arriving in Melbourne.
Lesia Tsurenko survived a very tough opening round test. The Ukrainian defeated Russian rising-star Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6 6-3 6-4. Tsurenko brought decent form to Melbourne Park having reached the semi-final stage at the Hobart International last week.
The only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-1 6-0 win for Radwanska on clay in Brussels back in 2012.
Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(26) 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇨🇿 Kristyna Pliskova
Agnieszka Radwanska will begin her 2018 Australian Open campaign against the always-dangerous Kristyna Pliskova. Radwanska is a two-time former semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, the Pole enters the 2018 event as the 26th seed, much lower than in previous years. Radwanska was eliminated in the second round in 2017 by big-hitting Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the 28-year-old will need to be on guard to ensure she does not suffer a similar fate when she comes up against Pliskova.
Radwanska has shown decent form heading into the first Grand Slam of the year. Radwanska reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Auckland and Sydney. Radwanska’s biggest win was in the opening round in Sydney where she defeated Johanna Konta in straight sets, avenging her loss to the Britt in the Sydney final last year. However, Radwanska’s losses where concerning. The former world number 2 was beaten by Sachia Vickery 6-2 6-2 in Auckland and was trashed by Camila Giorgi 6-1 6-2 in Sydney, two uncompetitive performances. It is hard to know what to expect from Radwanska in 2018 but one suspects her best is well behind her.
Pliskova has had some decent results in Melbourne in the last two years. Kristyna Pliskova had a good run to the third round at Melbourne Park last year, in 2016 she upset Sam Stosur in the opening round. Pliskova is a player capable of causing upsets, in her first match of 2018 she defeated Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets in Shenzhen on route to the quarter-finals. Pliskova arrives in Melbourne fresh off an opening round loss to Kirsten Flipkens in Hobart.
The Only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-3 6-2 win for Radwanska in Katowice in 2014.
Sydney International 🇦🇺🦈 QF Preview
(Q) 🇮🇹 Camila Giorgi vs 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska
Camila Giorgi and Agnieszka Radwanska will go head-to-head in a fascinating quarter-final clash at the Sydney International on Thursday evening. This match-up features a fascinating contrast in styles, the ultra-aggressive game of Giorgi up against the consistency and finesse of Radwanska. The head-to-head record between the pair is levelled at 1 win apiece heading into this match, their most recent match was a while back in Katowice in 2015, Giorgi won comfortably 6-4 6-2. It will be interesting to see how this match-up goes almost 3 years later.
Camila Giorgi is having a great week in Sydney. The Italian came through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals, a big deal for the Italian. Giorgi is yet to drop a set this week, winning 3 matches in the qualifying draw before beating Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-0 and Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-2. Giorgi has made noticeable improvements this week, most notably her serve, serving far less double faults than she usually would.
Aga Radwanska has navigated her way through a tough draw to reach the quarter-finals in Sydney. Radwanska came through the toughest opening round match-up, beating Konta 6-3 7-5 in what was a rematch of last years final. The former Sydney champion booked her spot in the final 8 with a 7-6 6-0 win over Catherine Bellis. Radwanska did well to see off the early threat posed by Bellis and ran away with the match in the second.
Sydney International 🇦🇺🦈 R2 Preview
(Q) 🇺🇸 Catherine Bellis vs 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska
Aga Radwanska came through the toughest opening round match-up in Sydney, winning the rematch of last years final, a 6-3 7-5 win over Johanna Konta. Radwanska will face another tough test in the second round where she comes up against American qualifier Catherine Bellis. It was Bellis who won the only previous meeting between the pair in Dubai last year.
Bellis has already won 4 tough matches this week in Sydney having come through the qualifying draw. Bellis started the week with wins over 3 decent opponents in the qualifying: Brady, Kuccova and Alexandrova. Bellis looked down and out against Alexandrova but fought back from a set down to win. In the main draw, Bellis claimed a good first round win, beating Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 6-0.
Radwanska was seemingly dealt a brutal draw in Sydney but the Pole navigated her way through her opening round match with Johanna Konta quite well, winning in straight sets. Radwanska was in control for the majority of the match as she again troubled Konta with her consistency and anticipation.
Radwanska will enter this match keen for revenge after she was shocked by the teenager in Dubai last year.
Sydney International, R1 Preview
(4) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta vs 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska
The pick of the first round matches at the Sydney International sees Johanna Konta take on Agnieszka Radwanska, a repeat of 2017’s final. This is a brutal draw for the two former champions, but both will see it as good preparation before heading to the Australian Open.
Konta and Radwanska both reached the quarter-final stage in their opening tournament last week. Konta won a couple of tough matches over Madison Keys and Ajla Tomljanovic in Brisbane before being forced to retire early in the third set with a hip injury against Elina Svitolina. Konta and Svitolina were both playing at an extremely high level before Konta’s unfortunate retirement.
Radwanska’s first week ended in great disappointment. Radwanska was shockingly eliminated by Sachia Vickery at the quarter-finals stage in Auckland, a 2-6 2-6 loss. Radwanska claimed wins over Beatriz Maia Haddad and Taylor Townsend earlier in the week.
Radwanska holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Konta. Radwanska won the two matches between the pair in 2016, a 3 set win in Cincinnati and a straight set win in the final at the China Open. The most recent match was in last year’s Sydney final where Konta produced a sublime level to win 6-4 6-2.
ASB Classic, Auckland R2 Preview
(4) 🇵🇱 Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇺🇸 Taylor Townsend
Agnieszka Radwanska scraped through her opening match of the season at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The former champion found herself down early in the deciding set but rallied to complete a 6-2 4-6 6-2 victory over Beatriz Maia Haddad. Radwanska will face another tough test when she comes up against America’s Taylor Townsend on Wednesday evening. This will be the first career meeting between the pair.
Agnieszka Radwanska looked in big trouble in her opening match of the year. Radwanska was down a break to Beatriz Maia Haddad early in the third set after falling away in the second set. Radwanska found her groove and eventually overwhelmed her inexperienced Brazilian opponent, the 4th seed claimed an important 6-2 4-6 6-2 victory. Radwanska will be hoping for a more consistent performance in her second round match with Taylor Townsend, Townsend’s impressive opening round performance suggests this will be another tough match for Radwanska.
Taylor Townsend moved into the second round in Auckland courtesy of an impressive comeback victory over Christina McHale. Townsend looked down and out early in the second set, Townsend trailed McHale 1-6 0-3. However, the 21-year-old really lifted her game and ultimately claimed a hard-fought 1-6 6-4 6-4 victory. Townsend’s serve was extremely effective in the deciding set, Townsend did not face a break point and did not even look like giving McHale a look into her service games.
This will be the first career clash between Radwanska and Townsend. It should be an entertaining clash between two very contrasting styles of tennis. The power of Townsend against the touch and experience of Radwanska. Who will prevail In this exciting clash?