Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Radwanska wins thriller at Wimbledon

It was a day of really, really good tennis. And at no time was it better than when 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agniesza Radwanska played Li Na. These two never fail to bring out the best in each other, and today's match--which Radwanska won 7-6, 4-6, 6-2--was a pleasure to watch. It wasn't without drama, either.

Li broke Radwanska for 5-4 in the opening set, and she had several set points. On one of them, she hit an ace. The problem was that the ball was called out by the line official. Li looked as though she were about to take issue with the call, but she didn't challenge it. Why, toward the close of a set when you believe you've been given a bad call and a correction would result in your winning the set (and especially in a Wimbledon quarterfinal), would you not challenge?!

Because you're Li Na.

The Chinese star, fall all her talent and cleverness, has a history of using poor judgment at crucial times. Today, it cost her a lot. The set went to a tiebreak, which  Li led 5-3, but then Radwanska won the next four points, giving her the set.

Not surprisingly, Li took the second set, after which Radwanska called for a trainer and had her hip taped some more. The Polish star then went up 2-0 in the final set, and didn't really have much trouble after that. There was a brief rain delay. The real drama began, however, when Radwanska tried to close the match. She had two match points on Li's serve, Li save them. She served for the match at 5-1, and went down 15-40. That was when the Radwanska squat shot took the 4th seed all the way down to the grass, where she sat ever so briefly.

Radwanska double-faulted on her third match point, but got the ad point with a stinging backhand down the line. The match point was saved by a volley from Li, who came to the net 71 times in the course of the match. Li got a third break point but couldn't convert it. She went on to save match points 5 and 6 when Radwanska hit soft second serves. Radwanska hit a volley that gave her a 7th match point, but that one didn't work, either. Finally, on her eighth match point, Radwanska had victory.

Radwanska looked exhausted, too, after the 2-hour and 43-minute ordeal. She actually looked exhausted before the end of the match, but she just kept going.

Radwanska's opponent in the semifinals will be Sabine Lisicki, who got the "flat" version of Kaia Kanepi today. The German player won 6-3, 6-3 in the only match played today that wasn't really very interesting.

On to Marion Bartoli. The 2007 runner-up beat Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5 in today's quarterfinal, and Stephens learned a lesson many have learned, and especially at Wimbledon: Do not play Bartoli after a rain delay. In 2007, the Frenchwoman took naps during rain delays (she still be doing that, for all I know). Someone would then wake her up, and she would go back to the court and bring an end to her opponent's run.

Today, Bartoli called for play to stop when Stephens was serving at 5-6, deuce, in the first set. It was raining, and Bartoli was insistent. Stephens didn't look too happy about it, but the delay was called. Considering all the slipping and falling that has gone on at this tournament, there's a good argument for having stopped play. At any rate, it rained a lot more, and the players were gone for a long time. When they returned to the court, after the warmup, Bartoli won the first set.

The second set featured eight consecutive breaks of serve. Stephens, serving at 5-6, was then broken at love, and that was that.

Finally, a very "on" Kirsten Flipkens upset a sick (again) Petra Kvitova.

There was another big upset today. In doubles play, Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova took down top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the third round. Errani and Vinci need a Wimbledon title in order to achieve a Career Slam, but that isn't happening this year.


Todd.Spiker said...

Such great matches today. I'm sure there are other great examples of it that aren't coming to mind right now, but this has to be one the best set of slam QF, as a whole, that I can remember seeing on a single day.

And at a Wimbledon where so many top players were out long ago, too. It says a great deal about the depth in the women's game right now.

#15, #20 and #23 seeds are in the semis, but it doesn't seem like a "letdown" at all. In fact, the intrigue is quite enticing.

Diane said...

What I think is: The people who are complaining about the "poor" state of the draw don't deserve the great matches they got today.

It was gratifying that the ESPN commentators--especially Chris and Pam--really got involved in what a special day it was.

Todd.Spiker said...

Although, I do wish Pam would put a rubber band on her wrist and give it a pull every time she calls Flipkens "Kristen." She caught herself a few times today, but it's Pammy, so I'll give her a pass. ;)