It was a long day at the office for Pole Agnieszka Radwanska in her first round match at the Australian Open. The #8 seed fought hard for three long sets against American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands and was able to pull through 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-2.
It was the quintessential WTA style match. Breaking-to-hold. Lots of emotions. Bad calls. No Hawkeye. Let me break it down…
Under tough conditions – the sun was blazing and the win was blowing – BMS jumped out of the gates and quickly was up 5-2. At this point all eyes were on Court 2, and the first upset of the Australian Open was looming in every one’s minds. How silly we all were. Up 5-2, Radwanska broke BMS to make it 5-3. The Pole held for 5-4, then broke the American again for 5-5. At this point we all knew it would be one of those matches… We head into the tie-break. Radwanska got a couple breaks and she looked to be cruising quickly getting two set points. We all got our hopes up for the #8 seed to hold true to form and take control. Radwanska had three set points in the tie-break but miraculously BMS was able to take the breaker 12-10.
Cool. First set in the bag. Maybe the American was actually going to pull off the first upset of the tournament? Silly me. Did I forget how WTA matches work? Next thing you know BMS calls the trainer out to the court. It was hard to make out what exactly she said, but it appeared to be that the American was struggling with a groin or hip flexor. There was no physical wrapping applied to BMS but she did leave the court to receive some treatment.
After Radwanska took the 2nd set 6-4 (after a slight comeback from BMS), Radwanska finally looked to be in control… And she did stay in control. Somewhat. The Pole struggled with painstackingly long service games throughout the match. Especially when it came to her 2nd serves, BMS was just eating them up and often converted many 2nd service-returns into winners.
Overall the match was messy, but there were many entertaining points, especially from BMS who employed a play often seen from Radwanska – a drop shot followed by a lob. In the end BMS just couldn’t string together enough points to stay with Radwanska.
Radwanska was lucky to pull this match out. It would have been a big shame for her to bomb out of Melbourne in the first round, considering she stated at the end of 2011 that she would make slams a higher priority on her list.