Australian Open SF: (1) Serena Williams vs (4) Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska will go head-to-head for the first time in over 2 years when they collide in the first semi-final of the Australian Open on Thursday. Serena Williams has been in ominous form in Melbourne, advancing to the final four without dropping a set and is the raging favourite to claim her seventh Australian Open title. However, Radwanska enters this match full of confidence having won her last 13 matches and certainly has a legitimate chance in this match to record her first ever victory over the world number 1.
Serena Williams has been relatively untroubled thus far in her title defense at Melbourne Park. The World number 1 is yet to drop a set, recording straight set victories over Camila Giorgi, Su-Wei Hsieh, Daria Kasatkina, Margarita Gasparyan and finally Maria Sharapova. The 6-time former champion seems to be getting better and better with every match and certainly made her biggest statement of the tournament thus far with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals.
Serena was at her explosive best for periods of that match, blasting numerous thunderous winners past Maria and serving extremely well. The one concern surrounding Serena is her fitness, Serena received a medical time-out after the first set of her quarter-final clash with Maria. It may have only been for a minor issue but Serena will need to be fully fit against an opponent like Radwanska, otherwise the Pole will take advantage the situation.
Agnieszka Radwanska is just 2 wins away from claiming an elusive maiden Grand Slam title. The Pole is into her second semi-final at Melbourne Park, and her sixth Grand Slam semi-final in total. Radwanska seems to be in the best position of her career heading into a Grand Slam semi-final. Aga is in great form but also should enter this match fresh physically and mentally. Radwanska has played just one three set match on route to the semi-finals, a tough fourth round victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam, prior to that match Aga recording relatively comfortable straight set wins over Christina McHale, Eugenie Bouchard and Monica Puig. Like Serena, Aga’s best performance came at the quarter-final stage where she produced a clean performance to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3.
Serena Williams has a perfect 8-0 head-to-head record over Agnieszka Radwanska. Pretty much all of the matches have been quite one-sided, Radwanska has only ever managed to take one set off Williams which was in the final at Wimbledon back in 2012. The pair haven’t played since late 2013 where Serena recorded a 6-2 6-4 win at the WTA Finals in Istanbul. Radwanska has really developed her game and her attitude since that last match which has led to success in bigger events such as the Rogers Cup and Indian Wells in 2014 and at the WTA Finals in 2015. It will be interesting to see if Aga’s new style gives her a greater chance to finally beat the world number 1.
Serena will rightfully head into this match as an overwhelming favourite given her record over Radwanska and given her dominance at this stage of Grand Slams over the last couple of years. However, I do believe that this match will be much closer than most people think. Aga has the same strengths as the players that have recently beaten/troubled Serena, players with great defensive skills and ability to mix things up such as Alize Cornet, Simona Halep, Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci.
Despite the head-to-head record I think Aga has the game to trouble Serena, especially if she is having a slightly off day. Radwanska’s serve has greatly improved since their last match and she has a much more positive mindset on the court. If Aga can maintain a high first serve percentage and get into as many extended rallies as possible I believe she has what it takes to finally record a victory over Serena.