Aga Radwanska: ‘I’m fresh, so I’m also happy’

FROM TORONTO, THE ROGERS CUP, TUESDAY, AUGUST 8 – Aga Radwanska has been a WTA mainstay for many, many years. In 2007, 10 years ago,  she shocked Maria Sharapova in the US Open, which was stunning because the American/Russian was winning all the time. But Radwanska was very young, super thin and she wasn’t powerful enough to dominate a Top 10 player.

Radwanska strengthens are in her legs; she is very fast and bends down so low. Also she can deposit her backhand deep in the court and can mix it up all day.

But she has yet to win at a Grand Slam. She did reach to No. 2 in 2012. At Wimbledon, she reached the final, knocking off Maria Kirilenko and then Angelique Kerber in the semis, finally losing against to the great Serena Williams in three fun sets.

At the Aussie Open in 2014, Radwanska was very consistent, her forehand was stronger and she was confident at the net. She reached the semis, and she was ready to grab the trophy. But she backed off her shots and lost to Dominika Cibulkova. In the ’06 Australian Open, Serena crushed her in the semis. The only way to upset S. Williams would be to jump on the ball immediately, rather than waiting, which she did not do, and the American blew her out.

These are also great times personally for the Pole as she just wed her longtime boyfirend and hitting partner Dawid Celt.

When Radwanska is very happy, and she was feeling very good, she can push herself. Or she can get better, especially with her weak second serve, and to continue improve her forehand, which is decent, but she has to smash the ball crosscourt.

On Tuesday in Toronto, Radwanska  beat CoCo Vandweghe is straight sets.  She is health again, and she moved inside the courts all the time. But over the last year, she was injured, all the time, but she won’t stop, at least for a couple weeks. This season, she should have pulled out for a long time, but she couldn’t.

“Playing all the time with no breaks — you want to keep going, it’s hard to make the decision that you want to stop and have a break. I didn’t, I just keep going, I didn’t want to not play anything just pushing yourself, and you’re doing injections, you can’t play, you’re skipping those weeks that you’re at home so you’re not practicing at all. Especially the Grand Slams, I didn’t want to not play Paris, Wimbledon. I had a really bad virus, before grass — I was even thinking not play Wimbledon, but I was like, there’s no chance I’m not going to play [a] Grand Slam. You’re pushing yourself, but every day you’re feeling better and better, and I was able to play great matches. And then, there was the foot again, and more injections, and I didn’t play for two weeks. … But I’m fresh, so I’m also happy that I’m playing good tennis with little preparation.”

If she wants to win a major, she will have to change the tactics, like going more to the net often, and immediately go for her shots against the excellent competitors, or she will loses in the final rounds of the majors.

She won her round of 16 match by crushing Timea Babos 6-0, 6-1. However, this week, she has to be patient and not be maudlin. 

Winners & Losers, Toronto: Bencic beat 6 fine players to grab title


Belinda Bencic

The 18-year-old Swiss was lethal. She was not perfect, but she seemed to read the lines at every turn. She can crack her forehands and backhands, she can sit back and wait until there is an opportunity, or she attacks ferociously. To win the Toronto title, she bested six fine players, outlasting Genie Bouchard, Caro Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Simona Halep. She rarely became nervous and now the teenager is truly believing in herself and she will have a legitimate chance to win the US Open.

Simona Halep

The Romanian had to retire in the final against Bencic, losing the first set 6-7 and winning the second set 7-6, but she was sick and couldn’t continue. However, she fought hard during the week, outlasting Angie Kerber and Aga Radwanska in three sets, and then she had to work hard against the fast Sara Errani in the semis. Yes, she has to swing away at times, but after she had a difficult clay and grass season, she is pleased to be back at the hard courts.

Serena Williams

In the past year, Serena has lost against Venus Williams, Petra Kvitova and now Bencic. Clearly, Serena was upset (she called it ‘crappy’) as her fabulous serve was way off and she had hurt her left hand, but really, it’s better for her to have lost. Now there will be a little pressure – at least until the US Open, when she tries to win all four Grand Slams at the same year.

Sara Errani

The veteran Italian hasn’t played spectacularly well this season, but she “upset” Victoria Azarenka, which was a fine win.

Lesia Tsurenko

The Ukrainian reached the quarterfinals on Toronto and she has been playing outstanding ball, winning Istanbul


Caro Wozniacki

Yes, she was hurt, but she didn’t say anything until after she lost against Bencic. She also lost in the opening round against Varvara Lepchenko in Stanford, when she said she 100 percent – until later. If she doesn’t want to play because her leg hurt, then don’t play, but don’t pretend that you are fine, and then later, she switched her commentary. She is a very nice person, but she needs to be honest all the time

Aga Radwanska

The Polish Radwanska has been close, but oh so far, falling against Kerber and Halep 6-4 in the third in Stanford and Toronto. She has every game in the book, but she cannot panic late or she is not going to reach the top 5 again.

Carla Suarez Navarro

The No. 10 Spaniard had rested well after a poor Wimbledon and she was excited on the hard courts, but she was flat in Stanford and Toronto. The 26-year-old isn’t a baby anymore. It’s time for her to step it up immediately.

Serena crushes Cirstea and wins 3rd Rogers Cup



Serena has won eight titles this year.

FROM THE ROGERS CUP TORONTO –She keeps winning, that irrepressible Serena Williams, and outside of her two somewhat stunning losses to Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open and to  Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon, as well  as her  respectable loss to her biggest rival, Victoria Azarenka in the final of Doha, she has been pretty much untouchable the rest of the season.

In fact, since she lost to Angelique Kerber at 2012 Cincinnati (a full calendar year), she has compiled a 68-3 record and  won 11 titles. Poor Sorana Cirstea didn’t stand much of chance in the final as Williams started strong and raced to the finish in a 6-2 6-0 victory to take her third Rogers Cup crown. Serena served bigger, she returned more accurately, beat her off the backhand side and for the most part off the forehand side.

Yes, as Cirstea said. the match was a bit closer than the scores indicated, but it really was not that close overall and after Williams broke Cirstea to 5-2 in the first when the Romanian parked a backhand, the contest was all but done. Serena coolly controlled the action, didn’t stress and was keenly focused. She asked Cirstea to try and play at her level and there was no way that the Romanian would be able to on a day when Serena was feeling better after a bout with sickness on Saturday night in her win over Aga Radwanska. She knew that her foe does not have the weaponry to play with her yet.

Yes, Cirstea had a terrific week and has reach a career high No. 21 ranking, but she has only won seven games in six sets against Williams. The gap is clear and very wide.

“She knows when to raise her level,” the 23-year-old Cirstea said. “She knows when it’s enough to play and when she has to step it up.”

Serena goes out of her way to praise her opponents now – she is even over the top at times . The 31-year-old  is almost like a mother hen, guiding her little chicks, telling them that the future is bright and there are better days ahead. That is what she did with Cirstea when the Romanian broke down in tears during the presentation ceremony. That is also what she did with Radwanska on Saturday night.

Of course it’s much easier to do when she’s winning, but she is a whole lot more comfortable in her own skin than she was say five years ago, and one can tell that she is becoming somewhat attracted to taking on a leadership role. Yes, she still hates to lose and cannot be easy to deal with inside the locker room after a defeat, but all the players respect her on court and  a number of the players are growing to like her off court.

WTA attendance woes

The WTA could really use Serena to be a real leader, sort of like Roger Federer is with the men. The tour could use some help and fresh ideas because the reality is that after attending 21 straight days of matches, which means 42 different sessions (day and night) at women’s only events, it is crystal clear to me that attendance is problematic.

Of the 42 sessions at Stanford, Carlsbad and  Toronto, I would say that seven were successful, meaning nearly sold out or sold out. That’s seven out of 42 for the women’s world’s leading sport, which is a troubling number indeed. Yes, Maria Sharapova did not play those three weeks so pretending that she did and went deep at two tournaments, you could generously say that another six sessions would have successful (and really, four is a more realistic number). Everyone else of note played at least one of those events.

Perhaps fans are too into their high-def TVs and computers now and would  rather watch the WTA on a screen at home than attend in person, but anyone who has attended an tournament knows that watching the players up close and live is far more impressive and a much more well rounded experience than seeing them on a screen. At this point I would be seriously rethinking marketing strategies when it comes to ticket sales, such as two for one deal with a parent and kid, or something like that.

I’m not throwing this burden entirely on the WTA, because they have some smart and creative people on their staff. But the tournaments surely have to step up and rethink their strategies, too, because my up close and personal look when the stands were 20 % full did not yield a “Wow these marketing strategies are brilliant” all too often. Some kind of world conference on the future of pro tennis is long overdue.

I wonder who will step up and host one. Maybe Serena in her expansive Bel Air haunts?

HIT LIST: Canadian Opens Edition

Jo played a ton in London and was pooped in Canada.

TIRED IN TORONTO: Two men who medaled last weekend in London, Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo Tsonga, went down and looked very jetlagged. Radek Stepanek beat DelPo 6-4 7-6(5), and Jeremy Chardy took out countryman Tsonga 6-4 7-6(4). Meanwhile, gold medalist Andy Murray tweaked his left knee and still managed to best Flavio Cipolla 6-1 6-3. Next up for Murray is Canada