WTA Finals RR: (3) Maria Sharapova vs (5) Agnieszka Radwanska
Sunday’s second red group match in Singapore will be a blockbuster encounter between Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Maria and Aga are the two most experienced players at tour Finale’s, reaching the season ending event more than anyone else competing in Singapore. These two have a fascinating rivalry, there is no love lost between the pair, there has been a fair bit of drama between the two. Maria has won the last 5 encounters between the pair, but she never has things all her own way against the Pole. Maria doesn’t seem to like playing Radwanska and always seems to raise her intensity against the Pole. Despite the head-to-head record, his match looks like a wonderful opportunity for Aga to pick up a rare victory over Maria given the Russian’s recent struggles.
Maria Sharapova enters her first match in Singapore having not won a match since her run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Maria has been struck down by an arm injury, unable to compete during the Asian swing despite turning up to Wuhan and attempting to compete. Maria would ultimately retire injured from her first round match and hasn’t played a match since. The positive for Maria is that she is probably the freshest of the elite 8 having not competed for such a long time. Maria has been seen practises in Singapore quite a bit over the last week. However Maria is bound to be a little rusty, which is never a good thing against a crafty opponent such as Radwanska.
Agnieszka Radwanska arrives in Singapore in contrasting form to Sharapova, the Pole has played an enormous amount of tennis in the last couple of months and has actually played her best tennis of the year during the Asian swing. Radwanska played sublime tennis on route to claiming titles in Tokyo and Tianjin, not dropping a set at both events. Radwanska will be competing in her 5th consecutive WTA Finals campaign, this looks like the Pole’s greatest opportunity to potentially go all the way and claim the biggest title of her career.
This is a fascinating match-up because of the extreme contrast in styles. Maria Sharapova holds a dominant 12-2 head-to-head record over Radwanska, however the lopsided head-to-head record doesn’t do the rivalry justice. Radwanska often finds a way to frustrate Sharapova, the Russian has won the last 5 encounters between the pair but struggled to close out the match on each occasion. This looks like the perfect opportunity for Radwanska to claim her first victory over Sharapova since her famous win over the Russian in the final of the Miami Open in 2012.
I’m going to side with Radwanska in the match. The Pole has all the winning form heading into this match having played some of her best tennis of the year during the Asian swing. Sharapova hasn’t won a match for months and will certainly take a while to get anywhere near her best. The slower surface will force Sharapova to go for more, it will be a tough ask for the Russian to hit through Radwanska in her first competitive match for a while. I like Aga’s chances here, if she can maintain her level of tennis that saw record great results in Asia.