A fantastic semi-final clash has been officially set as world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska will face rising star Dominika Cibulkova for a spot in the 2014 Australian Open final. Both athletes reached the semi-final stage on the heels of entertaining and dominant performances, which will make for an exciting match tonight on Rod Laver Arena. The head-to-head series stands at 4-1 for Radwanska, who will be looking to extend that lead and get one step closer to capturing her maiden Grand Slam title.
Radwanska stepped across the court from Azarenka on Wednesday afternoon, with a losing record of 2-13 against the Belarusian, but that did not hinder her performance,as she raced to a blistering 5-0 lead in the opening set before Azarenka managed to save the bagel by getting on the scoreboard dropping the set. The defending champion would step up her game in the second frame and would break Radwanska at 5-5 to serve out the set to send the match to a deciding set.
Radwanska’s game truly shone in the final set, as she applied her characteristic cunningness to play a wide variety of slices, lobs and passing shots to earn a dominant 6-0 score in the final set, sending her into the Australian Open semi-final for the first time in her career. Her performance left no doubt about her abilities, as she hit 23 winners to 15 unforced errors in one of the cleanest performances of her Grand Slam career.
“It’s hard to play someone I’ve lost to so many times before – and she’s a great player, especially here, she’s playing amazing tennis,” Radwanska said. “On the other hand, I really had nothing to lose. She was defending the title, not me. I just tried to play my best tennis and go for every shot I could.
“I’m just very happy because I was really playing great tennis.”
The Polish No. 1 also stated that she will do everything in her power to capture her first Grand Slam title on Saturday.
“Well, I hope so,” the World No.5 said. “I will do everything in my power to do that.”
Five years after reaching the semi-final at the French Open, Dominika Cibulkova was once again through to a Grand Slam semi-final with a dominant victory over Simona Halep, where she won the final eight games to secure the match. The win marked her third consecutive upset in Melbourne, having defeated No.16 Carla Suárez Navarro, No.3 seed Maria Sharapova and No.11 seed Halep to reach the semi-finals.
For Cibulkova, it is her confidence and mental fortitude that allows her to match the experience of the elite players on the tour.
“I’m really glad with the way I played, especially with the way I handled it mentally, after a big win over Maria,” Cibulkova said. “I wasn’t the favorite in this match against Halep either, but I walked on the court with the confidence I could do it again today. I was focusing on what I had to do, to do the right things. That was all I wanted to do out there, and of course enjoy my tennis on the court again.”
This marks the sixth time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour and the second time at a Grand Slam event. Radwanska leads the series 4-1, with two of those victories coming last year. Each holds a WTA tour final victory over the other in 2013, with Stanford being Cibulkova’s only ever victory over the world No. 5. Of the five encounters, Cibulkova has only ever taken a set off Radwanska on two occasions and will need to play her most intelligent tennis to topple her tonight to reach her first ever Grand Slam final.
Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska in Three Sets