Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska Announces Retirement

Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska announced today her retirement from professional tennis. She leaves the game following 20 career WTA singles titles, highlighted by the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global trophy.

Radwanska reached her lone Grand Slam singles final at 2012 Wimbledon, which helped her reach a career high ranking of WTA World No.2. She earned over $27.6 million in prize money over her career, which currently ranks seventh on the all-time career prize money earnings list.

“Today, after 13 years of playing tennis competitively, I have decided to end my career,” said Radwanska in her statement. “This was not an easy decision. I am grateful to have so many special memories, including 20 WTA titles, the WTA Championships in Singapore, a Wimbledon final, and so many others.”

In addition to her on court accomplishments, Radwanska, also known as “the Magician” by fans and media due to her crafty style of play, was voted the WTA Fan Favorite for six consecutive years.

“Congratulations to Agnieszka on an outstanding career,” said WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon. “Agnieszka embodies the qualities that make a true champion, on the court delivering world class performances and incredible displays of athleticism, and off the court with her poise, professionalism and support for her fellow players. Agnieszka leaves a legacy on the game across the globe and on behalf of the WTA, she will truly be missed.”

Radwanska played her last professional match in September at the KEB Hana Bank Incheon Airport Korea Open in Seoul.

Cibulkova Beats Radwanska In Best Women’s Match So Far At Wimbledon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova won what was arguably the match of the tournament on Monday at Wimbledon as she took down the No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3, 5-7, 9-7.

“I’m just really happy right now with my tennis and with my private life…you can see it on the court,” said Cibulkova, who has reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second time in her career and is planning to get married on the same day as the women’s singles final.

The Slovakian, seeded 19th at Wimbledon, came into the event in good form as she had won 22 of her last 25 matches, including a win on grass at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon began.

Cibulkova, who has been ranked as high as No. 10 in the world, was able to feed off that good form and got off to an impressive start with her aggressive style of play and it looked like she was up to the task of playing the No. 3 player in the world, losing just one point in each of her first two service games before breaking Radwanska for a 3-1 lead. The Slovakian felt no pressure in closing out the first set after earning the break as she wasn’t taken to deuce in any of her service games and managed to win 14 points on return throughout.

The second set looked like it would be a replay of the first as Cibulkova, who hit 56 winners in the match, pressured Radwanska’s serve early, allowing her to earn a break for a 2-1 lead. The lead was short lived though as the Pole broke right back in the next game to get on serve again before the two exchanged breaks twice more in the latter stages of the set, including four breaks in a row from the 3-3 game to the 5-4 game.

The last of those four consecutive breaks came when Cibulkova served for the match the first time, allowing Radwanska to get back on serve and turn the tables. After a hold to grab a 6-5 lead, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist was able to break again in the 12th game, stealing the second set and forcing a decider.

“After I didn’t make the first match point the momentum changed and then she was up…today she was playing really, really good,” said Cibulkova.

The feisty spirit of Cibulkova kept her going in the third set despite the disappointment of failing to convert that match point opportunity at 5-4 in the second set. After fighting off a break point in her first service game of the third, the Slovakian was the one in charge for the majority of the decider.

An exchange of breaks came in the middle of the set before Cibulkova earned another break for a 7-6 lead and had the opportunity to close out the match again. It was not meant to be this time either, though, as Radwanksa was able to break back again and prolong the match.

To Cibulkova’s pleasure, the match was only prolonged two more games as she broke for the seventh time, allowing her to serve for the match again. The third time was the charm for Cibulkova as she finally closed out the match with a forehand winner before falling to the ground in joy.

“It was just…so tough to go through. Especially when you have an opponent that doesn’t give you any free gifts, you just know that you have to earn every single point. It takes so much energy. It’s even tougher mentally, so today was just an amazing match,” said Cibulkova, the 2014 Australian Open finalist. “I would say it was the toughest match in my career so far, physically and also mentally…Against Aga today I felt like I have to put six, seven, eight winners to earn the point.”

Cibulkova’s run at this year’s Wimbledon has already given her enough to be happy about as she has reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011, but she also has her wedding to look forward to once the tournament ends. The 27-year old will be marrying long-time significant other Miso Navara on a date that will also be occupied by the women’s singles final.

The date was chosen “because I never saw myself as such a great grass court player,” said Cibulkova, who admitted that the date would change if she continued her run in London.

“We can postpone it…If we would really have to postpone it, then it will be like dream come true because nothing better could happen to me in my tennis career,” said Cibulkova.

Her next opponent will be the 29-year old from Russia, Elena Vesnina, who has made her first major quarterfinal.

Pironkova Upsets No. 2 Seed Radwanska In Rainy Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria had the biggest upset of the French Open so far as she downed the No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska on Tuesday, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The match, which started on Sunday but was delayed due to weather, resumed with Radwanska leading comfortably at 6-3, 3-0. After a 39 hour delay, though, Pironkova took complete control of the match, reeling off six games in a row to come back and win the set, losing only one point in her last two service games, to force a decider.

The third set was more of the same as the Bulgarian was able to win four more games in a row to start out, running her game streak to 10 overall. That 4-0 lead was cut to 4-2 as Radwanska got one of the breaks back, but that was all she could salvage out of the match as Pironkova was too good and closed out the match comfortably.

Pironkova, currently ranked No. 102 in the world, has been known as a grass court specialist as she made the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011, but has also showed her prowess on the clay courts, winning two titles.

That clay court skill was on display as she was able to take advantage of a distracted Radwanska, who seemed to be disinterested in being on the court. Pironkova made sure to not let the poor conditions get to her and just focus on what was happening on the court.

“Today I tried to leave the fact that it was raining out of my mind and just focus on each and every point. Obviously that worked. If the court is not fit for play…they would cancel the match right away. But today the court was okay, we could have played, and so we did,” said Pironkova, the former No. 31 player in the world.

Pironkova has now beaten the No. 2, No. 19, and No. 22 seeds in her run to the quarterfinals in Paris and is not done yet.

The French Open continues to be a site of struggle for Radwanska. Aside from making the quarterfinals in 2013, the Pole has lost in the first three rounds of the tournament in six out of her 10 appearances, including in 2015 when she lost in the first round to the No. 83 player in the world.

Radwanska made clear that she was happy with the court conditions.

“I’m just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain…it’s a grand slam. How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in these conditions,” said Radwanska. “I don’t think they really care what we think. I think they care about other things.”

Simona Halep, who lost to Sam Stosur on Tuesday, was also displeased with the court conditions.

“It was impossible to play in my opinion…no one cares about the players in my opinion,” said Halep. “I don’t care that I lost the match today, but I was close to getting injured with my back, that’s a big problem.”

Pironkova’s opponent in the quarterfinals will be Stosur, a former French Open finalist.

The Ladies Hit the Dirt Hoping for Feats on Clay

What promises to be a thrilling spring and summer of tennis for the WTA begins this week for the ladies in Stuttgart for the start of the clay court season.

This much-anticipated segment of the calendar begins with a bang as 17 of the Top 20 players in the world are entered in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. Madrid and Rome will also host Premier events during the month of May as preparation for the second Grand Slam event of the year at Roland-Garros.

Over the past few years, the expectations and results on the red dirt for the women have been highly unpredictable and 2012 will be no different. Gone are the days of dominant clay court specialists on the WTA like Justine Henin or Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Instead, today’s Tour is all about parity making it anyone’s game, especially on clay. Case and point, the French Open has crowned a different champion each of the last four years. It will be interesting to see if World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka can continue her dominance this season on a different surface or whether Maria Sharapova will finally breakthrough with some titles after finishing as the runner-up at the three biggest tournaments of the year so far. Can Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova kick-start her season after a slow start? Will Caroline Wozniacki claim that elusive Grand Slam crown? Can Na Li repeat in Paris? Will a resurgent Ana Ivanovic be a threat again on a surface that brought her Grand Slam glory in 2008? All of these questions will be answered over the next few weeks with a few unexpected twists thrown in for good measure.

Don’t be surprised if a player outside of the Top 10 makes some noise at the big tournaments and look for Agnieszka Radwanska to make a serious run at her first Grand Slam title at Roland-Garros. Her all court game is well-suited for clay. Not to mention, she is enjoying the best season of her career.

It’s impossible to discuss a pending Major without throwing the name of Serena Williams into the mix. She played the Australian Open on one ankle, but comes into the clay court season in much better shape especially after rolling through the draw in Charleston a few weeks ago to win her 40th career title. Williams is driven to continually overcome health obstacles for another opportunity to add to her Grand Slam tally. The expectations may be low heading into Roland-Garros considering her recent results at the Majors and the fact clay is her worst surface. However, tennis fans have learned over the years to never discount Serena and it would be very much her style to triumph in Paris when everyone least expects her to.

If I Were The Tennis Santa

I really feel bad for the tennis players over the holidays.  They work so hard for so little and barely have time to relax!  So if I were the Tennis Santa, what would I bring them to lighten their load and bring a smile to their faces during this season of cheer?

The first thing I would wrap up and put under the e-tree would be the Fountain of Youth. Did you know that it’s actually an Archaeological Park in Florida?  How cool! I’d pass out a lot of these since quite a few players are at or around the age of doom (30) and could use the assistance turning back the clock and prolonging their tennis primes. I wouldn’t give one to Federer though. He doesn’t need any help.

Speaking of turning back time, I’ve found the perfect gift to help Andy Roddick re-discover his days of glory- or at least his days of hair. The Afro-Visor!


For Andy Murray, I thought some “Understand Your Mother (Instantly) Breath Spray” might be helpful, considering his mother’s eternal wisdom and awesomeness.

I’d give this “Sharp-End Dog Pencil Sharpener” to Rafael Nadal, mainly just to see his reaction.  What’s the fun in playing Santa if you can’t be a little bit naughty?

 

On the other end of the spectrum Robin Soderling just got a new puppy, so I will certainly have to bring him an embarrassing costume for the adorable pet!

I thought I’d get the cerebral Sam Stosur something special to help those match to-do lists stay put. Sweat-bands and sharpies are too finicky of a combination for a Grand Slam Champion!  She’ll love these “To-Do Tattoos”.

 

I’ve decided it’s time for Agnieszka Radwanska to finally come out of the ninja closet.  This “Ninja Hooded Mask” will reveal her true identity in 2012. Watch out WTA!

 

For Mikhail Youzhny, and maybe the rest of his Russian compatriots, I’d like to try to eliminate the brain farts on the court.  Therefore, why not help them get out of their system off the court?  The “Brain Fart Whoopie Cushion” should do the trick.

 

And finally, I’d like to prolong the day that Jelena Jankovic inevitably runs out of entertaining excuses for losing tennis matches. With this “Instant Excuse Ball” the colorful Serbian should have material for years to come!

 

So that’s my list- what about you? What would you virtually gift to your favorite players if you were the Tennis Santa? Feel free to share in the comments section, or tweet me with your lists. And no matter what you celebrate, be sure to have a safe and happy Holiday season. There’s no time to be too naughty, the new tennis season is just around the corner!