WTA Finals SF: (2) Garbine Muguruza vs (5) Agnieszka Radwanska
Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska will resume hostilities on Saturday when they go head-to-head in the first semi-final at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Garbine Muguruza has made the perfect start to her first ever WTA Finals campaign, emerging from the white group undefeated. In contrast, Agnieszka Radwanska claimed just 1 victory, but managed to sneak into the final 4 for a second year in a row courtesy of a stunning straight set win over Simona Halep. All the pressure will be on Garbine, the Spaniard’s form throughout the tournament has been far greater and she has won the last 4 matches against the Pole. It will be interesting to see how Garbine handles the pressure.
Garbine Muguruza finished at the top of the white group, winning all 3 of her group stage matches. Garbine was at her ruthless best in her first 2 matches, defeating Lucie Safarova 7-6 6-3 before claiming her 4th consecutive win over Angelique Kerber with a 6-4 6-4 win.
Garbine entered her final group stage match with Petra Kvitova on Friday knowing that she needed to win just 1 set to confirm her place in the semi-finals. It ended up being an extremely close finish, Muguruza was very cool under pressure closing out a 6-4 4-6 7-5 win on her 4th match point. Garbine will be full of confidence heading into the semi-final stage given her recent dominance of Radwanska.
Agnieszka Radwanska looked down and out after slumping to 0-2 in the red group courtesy of losses to Maria Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta in her opening group stage matches. The manner in which Aga lost her opening two matches was quite disappointing, the Pole was seemingly in control of matches before being overrun. Aga was a set up against Sharapova before succumbing 6-4 3-6 4-6, in her second match Aga failed to serve out the first before going down 6-7 4-6 to Flavia Pennetta.
Aga certainly raised her intensity in final group stage, Aga needed to win in straight sets to keep her Singapore campaign alive and that’s exactly what she did. The Pole claimed an impressive 7-6 6-1 victory over the top seeded Simona Halep, sending the Romanian out of the tournament.
Aga trailed 1-5 in the first set tiebreaker before raising her game to an insane high to win the next 6 points and claim the critical first set. The second set was routine for Aga as Simona seemed to accept defeat, having no answers to Radwanska’s game. Aga played the match with an aggressive mindset, hitting 30 winners (10 more than Halep), a mindset which she must bring into her semi-final if she is to have a chance against an opponent she has recently struggled against.
Muguruza holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Radwanska. Radwanska won the first 2 matches between the pair but Garbine has won the last 4 matches, all 4 of those victories came in 2015. 3 of the matches went the distance including the 2 most recent matches, a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win in the Wimbledon semi-finals and a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win at the semi-final stage in Beijing.
Both ladies will be feeling very different heading into this match, for the first time Garbine will enter a match with Radwanska as the clear favourite. All the pressure is on Muguruza after she stormed through the group stage without dropping a match. Garbine has now played 6 days in a row given she is also competing in the doubles. After a 2 and a half hour match on Friday against Kvitova, Mugruza will be physically vulnerable on Saturday. Radwanska is the type of opponent that can make the most of this situation.
I like Radwanska’s chances in this match. Aga has played far less tennis this week and is likely to be much fresher, both physically and mentally heading into this match. All the pressure is on Muguruza, she is yet to prove that she can handle the pressure at this stage of a big event. Radwanska is far more experienced at this level and should be smart enough to avoid a 5th consecutive loss to Muguruza, especially because Muguruza is likely to be physically and mentally fatigued.