Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I always seem to be in a hurry to dismiss
Agnieszka Radwanska as a true top-five player on the WTA tour, but I may have
to reconsider since it doesn't appear as though the current world-No. 3 star
is going away anytime soon.
The 23-year-old from Krakow, Poland, just keeps winning matches on the
circuit. She's 56-16 this season, including trips into five finals, with three
titles (Dubai, Miami and Brussels).
One of her losses in a 2012 championship match came at the hands of the
world's truly top player (according to most), Serena Williams, in the
Wimbledon final, which just so happened to mark the first Grand Slam final of
Radwanska's career. She also reached a quarterfinal at the Aussie Open (but
failed to reach the quarterfinals at the French and U.S. Opens).
The eight-year pro has appeared in 14 career WTA finals, going 10-4, with six
of the 10 titles coming over the last two campaigns. Her most recent final
occurred as recently as last week, when she, unfortunately, fell to resurgent
Russian Nadia Petrova at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Talk about quietly getting the job done, "Aga" will finish inside the women's
Top 10 for the fourth time in five years. But this year will mark her
first-ever year-end top-five spot.
She's posted a bevy of quality wins this season, spearheaded by one against
French Open champion and former world No. 1 great Maria Sharapova in the
lucrative Miami finale back in April. The tactician that is Radwanska also has
beaten other top-10 stars this season such as Angelique Kerber (twice), former
Roland Garros titlist Li Na and former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli. And
she's topped a trio of former world No. 1 stars on multiple occasions in
2012, having handled Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams,
all two times apiece.
Radwanska has already established herself as the best-ever player from Poland,
as she continues to try to give the European nation its first-ever No. 1
player. When she reached that Wimbledon final in July, she became the
first Pole in the Open Era (1968) to reach a major championship match.
In 2007, Radwanska became the first-ever Polish player to capture a WTA
singles title when she prevailed in Stockholm.
Her plaudits also include being voted as the WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer in
2006 and the WTA's Fan Favorite Singles Player in 2011.
Suffice it to say, she's the first Polish tennis player to exceed $10 million
in prize money.
Did You Know?: Radwanska is a three-time Wimbledon and Aussie Open
quarterfinalist but has never advanced beyond the fourth round at the U.S. and
So how does Radwanska do it? Stay inside the Top 10, that is, with limited
power in a power-crazed game. She doesn't possess that big serve, and isn't
blessed with the big-time pop on her ground strokes.
She does it with great court sense, thinking two or three shots in advance.
She's the tennis equivalent to a chess player, much like former world No. 1
great Martina Hingis, who certainly was no stranger to constructing points and
making intelligent use of the court. So it should probably come as no surprise
that Radwanska has credited Hingis as one of her inspirations.
Earlier this year, Tom Perrotta of The Wall Street Journal called Radwanska
"the most tactically sound, subtle tennis player in the world."
I can't say that I would disagree.
And former pro Wojciech Fibak described her as "a natural mover who
understands the geometry of the court."
Radwanska's game is based on variety and mobility. She frustrates her
opponents with a blend of slices and lobs and has the ability to hit the ball
at a variety of angles. She also can beautifully disguise a timely drop shot.
Did You Know?: Radwanska's younger sister, Urszula, also plays on the WTA and
is currently ranked a career-high No. 32 in the world.
Radwanska (Agnieszka, that is) has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world
this year and actually entered Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with a chance to
exit both tournaments at No. 1.
It didn't quite happen.
Aga has stated that her goals are to win a Grand Slam title and become No. 1.
I wouldn't bet against her.
The Sports Network