Women’s Australian Open, Semi-Final Preview #1: Serena Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska

The first of the 2016 Australian Open women’s semi-finals will be contested between the number one seed, Serena Williams and the number four seed, Agnieszka Radwanska. While there have been many surprises, mostly in the fourth quarter, the top half has gone with seeding. Radwanska advanced to the quarter-finals thanks to a straightforward 6-1 6-3 victory over Carla Suárez Navarro. It was one of Radwanska’s better performances of the week although she was given a helping hand by Suárez Navarro’s 45 unforced errors.

Radwanska has dropped just one set during this tournament in a frenetic fourth round match against Anna-Lena Friedsam. The Polish player was 2-5 down in the third set and two points from defeat, but battled hard against a cramping Friedsam. This is the kind of match where Radwanska has come unstuck in the past, getting out-hit by a more aggressive player, but she did well to survive that encounter. Radwanska’s first three wins all came in straight sets against Christina McHale (6-2 6-3), Eugenie Bouchard (6-4 6-2) and Monica Puig (6-4 6-0).

It was more of the same for Serena Williams who sealed her 18th consecutive win against Maria Sharapova with a 6-4 6-1 quarter-final victory in 92 minutes. Sharapova certainly had her chances in the first set; she led 2-0 30-15 after an error-strewn start from Serena but the world number one was soon on level terms. The turning point would be the final two games of the set. Sharapova had two break points on Serena’s service game at 4-4 but both were extinguished; the first on an ace and the second with a forehand putaway. Sharapova then failed to capitalise on game point serving at *4-5 *40-30 as a slice of luck with a lucky net cord allowed Serena to push the game to 40-40. After another tense deuce battle, Serena eventually sealed the opening set with a volley winner.

Serena attributed her sluggish start and a visit from doctor on court to “dealing with food poisoning issues from a few days ago”. Her run through the draw has still been pretty spectacular with wins over Camila Giorgi (6-4 7-5), Su-Wei Hsieh (6-1 6-2), Daria Kasatkina (6-1 6-1) and Margarita Gasparyan (6-2 6-1) .

Head-to-head record: Serena leads Aga, 8-0 in their head-to-head. Aga has won just one set, which came in the 2012 Wimbledon final. The pair haven’t played a competitive match since the WTA Championships in Istanbul in 2013 where Serena won, 6-2 6-4.

Interesting stat: Radwanska has maintained her winning streak which is now at 13 matches. She will be looking to reach her second Grand Slam final…

Analysis: This will be a tough ask for Radwanska to make a dent in this head-to-head against an in-form Serena. She has done extremely well to reach the semi-finals and choosing to skip Sydney as a precaution for the leg injury (which has been heavily taped this week) proved to be a very smart move. The serve will be absolutely crucial for Radwanska in this clash; her second serve will come under attack from the crushing returns of Serena so a high first serve percentage is imperative. This has improved for Radwanska throughout the tournament and was at 69% against CSN.

The world number four can certainly make life difficult for Serena if she can channel AO 2014 vibes when she lit it up against Azarenka in the quarter-finals. Radwanska will have to play the match of her life and/or rely on Serena throwing in a sub-standard performance. Serena has looked super sharp throughout much of the tournament and almost always raises her level at the business end of Slams… I’m going for Serena to reach her seventh Australian Open final.

Prediction: S.Williams d. Radwanska in 2 sets

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

31 thoughts on “Women’s Australian Open, Semi-Final Preview #1: Serena Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska

  1. Serena looks to be in great form this tournament, despite being broken three times by Camila Giorgi, Margarita Gasparyan, & Maria Sharapova. But, she has been playing clean matches, from start to end and won all her matches in straight sets. She hasn’t served more than three double faults per match. Her match stats are 38 aces, 9 double faults, 122 winners, and 81 unforced errors. But, Aggie Radwanska has 8 aces, 6 double faults, 90 winners, and 72 errors. While Radwanska will put up a good fight against Serena, I don’t think she has enough to break Serena’s serve. I predict that Serena will win this match in two sets and the scoreline will be 6-3 6-4.

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  2. I’ve noticed that in the Guardian’s sports comments section everybody’s already talking as though Serena’s already in the final and discounting Aga’s chances completely, in most cases not even mentioning her. I think that’s sad and makes me want Aga to win even more.

    Go ninja girl!

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  3. Serena’s waaaayyyy too sharp for Aga. She leads 8-0 in the head-to-head matches and she has won 7 of those 8 matches in straight sets on hard courts. Serena wins in two sets.

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  4. The WTA Addict website predicted that Radwanska will beat Serena in 3 sets. But, with the form that Serena is in right now, I see Serena winning this match in two sets. Her serve has greatly improved, she hasn’t dropped a set in the tournament yet, and she has no more than three double faults in each match. The WTA Addict website hasn’t always been that accurate in predicting Serena’s results for her matches. Anytime they say Serena wins in 3 sets, she has always done it in 2 sets.

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      • I think some WTA’s comments are worth repeating here;

        “Serena will rightfully head into this match as an overwhelming favourite given her record over Radwanska and given her dominance at this stage of Grand Slams over the last couple of years. However, I do believe that this match will be much closer than most people think. Aga has the same strengths as the players that have recently beaten/troubled Serena, players with great defensive skills and ability to mix things up such as Alize Cornet, Simona Halep, Belinda Bencic and Roberta Vinci.

        Despite the head-to-head record I think Aga has the game to trouble Serena, especially if she is having a slightly off day. Radwanska’s serve has greatly improved since their last match and she has a much more positive mindset on the court. If Aga can maintain a high first serve percentage and get into as many extended rallies as possible I believe she has what it takes to finally record a victory over Serena.

        Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets.”

        I’d like to think that’s true. Trouble is, from what I’ve read elsewhere Aga’s second serve against Carla was at times very slow – about the same speed as the serve she had when she went out against Domi in the 2014 AO, i.e. about 65-68 mph. She’ll need to serve a lot better than that to have a chance against Serena.

        As you can probably tell, I hope she does though! I’m not anti-Serena and hope that she does get to her Steffi-equalling 22 slams, but not before Aga’s won the slam a lot of us feel she deserves.

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  5. Serena in two. I’m not convinced of Aga form. Again will try to make Serena over hit the ball. Serena is still mad about that Vinci upset and she will take it out on Again.

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  6. Congratulations Serena,that 1st set was just a Joy To Watch,such a clean set of tennis,you took your foot off the pedal a bit in the 2nd set,Aga raised her level.Onto another AO final.Well Done Serena!

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  7. everytime serena wins….the aftermatch on this blog is always sooooo silent..look at the voume of comment before the match compare to the volume now….. looooool

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