One of Friday’s most intriguing quarter-finals pits two of the tour’s in-form players against each other. Check out the Radwanska vs Wozniacki Head to Head.
Agnieszka Radwanska, after a months-long slump, burst back into relevance with her title run in Montreal last week. There, she beat three players who had caused her many headaches in the recent past – Sabine Lisicki, Victoria Azarenka and Ekaterina Makarova – before taking care of a fatigued and misfiring Venus Williams in the final. The victory was the Pole’s biggest since Miami 2012, and confirmed that she can indeed beat a succession of harder-hitting players in the right circumstances.
Caroline Wozniacki hasn’t made as big an impact this summer, but there’s no ignoring the Dane’s uptick in form. She won an International title in Istanbul a couple of weeks after Wimbledon, and pushed Serena Williams to the limit in a brilliant quarter-final in Canada. Confidence-starved and tentative for much of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Wozniacki has been playing with zeal and purpose again recently. Her game is still predicated on defence, but she has shown greater willingness to pull the trigger during rallies and has been more daring with her serve and forehand.
Radwanska’s 6-1, 6-1 dismissal of Sabine Lisicki on Thursday was impressive. In a match that lasted just 52 minutes, the Pole won 86% of her own first serve points and an incredible 80% of Lisicki’s second serve points, a success rate that allowed her to break six times.
Yet Wozniacki’s 7-5, 6-2 win over Angelique Kerber was arguably more significant. The German had won the pair’s two most recent matches and was in great form herself. Unlike Lisicki, Kerber rarely hands opponents errors on a platter, so Wozniacki had to work hard for her victory. She returned brilliantly, breaking Kerber five times, and kept the sixth seed off balance with pinpoint groundstrokes.
That was Wozniacki’s first triumph over a top ten player in 2014. Can she make it two in a row by beating Radwanska today? Although the world number five has won their last three matches, Wozniacki leads the overall head-to-head 5-4.
It will be fascinating to see how each woman approaches this match. Both players are at their best when absorbing pace, and neither is renowned as a ball-basher. Wozniacki has the bigger stature and is more capable of launching herself into shots, but she’ll need to do so judiciously lest she give Radwanska a target. Radwanska has a more varied arsenal, but that won’t matter much if Wozniacki gets every ball back regardless of how it’s been struck.
This might come down to attitude: who wants it most, and who is willing to stay on court all day in order to get it? We have to give Wozniacki the upper hand in that department, especially considering how well she’s playing at the moment. Radwanska is a magician, but she can also get tetchy when things aren’t going her way. The more automaton-like Wozniacki almost never throws in the towel, no matter how dire the predicament.
Prediction: Wozniacki will break down an increasingly frustrated Radwanska to win in three sets.