Another classic in WTA Final: Sharapova overcomes Radwanska

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - OCTOBER 25 : Maria Sharapova in action at the 2015 WTA Finals

Maria Sharapova in action at the 2015 WTA Finals. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Maria Sharapova and Aga Radwanska have played each other numerous times, and for the most part, they have been fairly tight. But in the end at the WTA Finals, the Russian/American has come through every single contest. All of them have been phenomenally close. Try in 2012, when Sharapova came through 5-7 7-5 7-5 in 3 hours, 12 minutes in Istanbul. In 2014, Radwanska ran side to side, but Sharapova came though again in Singapore, winning in 3 hours, 10 minutes. On Sunday night, when she hasn’t play a full match since Wimbledon, the enthusiastic Sharapova pulled it off, defeating Radwanska 4-6 6-3 6-4 in 2 hours, 47 minutes. Was that too short? Too long?

Even though Radwanska has taken down just about every top competitor, when she is super close, she can back off a little bit. She held two break points at 4-5 in the third set, but when she rushed the net, she landed her volley in the middle of the court and Sharapova launched a lob for a winner. Then the Pole missed a standard forehand long. When Sharapova had her first match point, she blasted a forehand down the line for a winner. Game over. Radwanska can’t figure out how to pull it off.

“Very powerful. Solid player,” said Radwanska, who is now 2-13 head to head against Sharapova. “I think no normally weak points and pretty much everything which is on the same level. She’s really going forward from the first point. So you cannot really step back, because otherwise she’s going to pretty much kill you from every point. That’s why you really have to play aggressive as well from the beginning. As she serving well and first two serves and return she’s really going for it, so the way it is, just not to get back too far and trying have some control as well on the court.”

Sharapova later said that after she was hurt again in the end of September when she played her only match in Wuhan. She could have said OK, my body just won’t be healthy this year and it’s time to shut it down. But she didn’t, went to Europe, had a doctor who worked on her, she got back on the court in LA, and at least on Sunday night, she was moving around pretty quickly.

“I was very determined going into this match. I felt like I was focused and I did everything I could to be ready in the last three weeks,” Sharapova said. “I think it could have been quite easy for me when I was in Wuhan after that match to just contemplate and say, ‘You know what? I’ve had a few frustrating months. Be really easy just to skip this last one.’ But I made my way to Europe to try to get better as fast as I could. Flew back to the United States an, started training, and here I am. I feel like this match, as I look back, I know it’s still a long road to go in this event, but as far as a personal achievement, it’s nice to look back three weeks ago and think I’m glad I did that and got through it and gave myself a chance to play here.”

In the third set, it looked like Sharapova might grow wild. She isn’t fast as Radwanska, but she’s tougher. Look at their forehands and Sharapova’s is substantially better. Plus, over the past five years or so, her legs have become stronger. She rarely becomes too tired. She doesn’t mind coming into the net once and while and she can toss in a drop shot.

“I know we have pretty long ones. I know a lot of you look forward to them,” Sharapova said. “I do, too. I really do enjoy playing against her. I feel like those are some of the matches that I like to watch on TV, when different styles of games clash against each other. Becomes that bit of a cat and mouse game. That’s something that my father talked about so much when I was a young girl. Just have to figure out a way to win no matter how similar or different the games are. I think that combination just creates really good matches between each other. I think the game in the third set, I think it was my first service game to hold to 1‑all, that was a pretty big game. Very physical, a lot of long rallies, and I came through. Even though I hit some doubles, I came through with some aces.”

Speak Your Mind