Agnieszka Radwanska’s quest for a maiden Grand Slam title continues on Monday, when she will face Ekaterina Makarova in the last 16 of Wimbledon. Check out the Radwanska vs Makarova Head to Head.
Radwanska’s progress at this year’s Championships has been low-key, possibly because she hasn’t been on court long enough to attract much attention. In three matches, the Pole has lost nine games and laboured for less than three hours in total. In the first and third rounds, against Andreea Mitu and Michelle Larcher De Brito respectively, Radwanska did what she does best, soaking up her opponents’ errors and remaining rock steady herself. But her second round match against Casey Dellacqua was a clearer indication of Radwanska’s current form. Exquisite shot selection and masterly misdirection saw her ratchet up 19 winners and a mere eight unforced errors.
Much has been said and written about Radwanska’s Wimbledon 2013, notably how her window of opportunity slammed shut when she lost a heart-breaking semi-final to Sabine Lisicki. Last year, the fourth seed lamented that a series of tough matches – she went the distance against big hitters three times before running into Lisicki – had taken its toll. This year, she will enter the second week the most rested of any top seed.
If Radwanska has barely broken sweat so far, Makarova has had to toil in every one of her matches. She was lucky to make it through round one, where she edged Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-5 in the third. She got past both Misaki Doi and Caroline Garcia in straight sets in the second and third rounds, but she was forced to dig deep each time. Makarova also spent over two and half hours on court in her first round doubles match.
Players often appreciate close battles and Makarova will hope that having spent so much time in hot water will give her the advantage over Radwanska should things get tight. And while Radwanska has a 3-1 lead in the pair’s head-to-head, Makarova will be able to draw on memories of their most recent clash, an impressive 6-4, 6-4 win for the Russian at last year’s US Open.
There is no doubt that Radwanska has the greater range of shots: there is nothing she can’t do with the ball when she has the time and space to prepare. A quick thinker on the turf, she improvises brilliantly to bamboozle rivals and draw the error. Makarova can’t compete with the Pole in the artistic stakes, but she can make life difficult for her by hitting hard, flat and deep. She can also use her strong lefty serve to put Radwanska on the back foot at the beginning of rallies, the better to line up short balls that can be punished with her formidable two-handed backhand.
This might not be Monday’s most high-profile match, but it could be one of the best. A win for Makarova wouldn’t be a complete surprise, but we’ll tip Radwanska to find the antidote just in time and log a usefully testing three-set victory.