Another match, another win. In fact, Agnieszka Radwanska hasn’t lost one yet in 2013, winning her 12th straight over young Brit Heather Watson at Hisense Arena early Friday.
The fourth seed hasn’t even dropped a set this season, and continued in that vein as she dissected Watson 6-3 6-1 to set up a fourth round battle with either Ana Ivanovic or Jelena Jankovic.
“That's a good question. I don't know. I didn't really change anything,” said Radwanska, when asked the reason behind her career-best winning streak.
“Of course, I was practising hard in the off-season, a lot of fitness, but just feeling good on court. I'm very confident from the beginning and just happy that I can play really my best tennis from the beginning of the year.”
Radwanska began against Watson in much the same way as she has in 2013, on the first point feathering a drop shot over the net then chipping a lob over Watson’s head for a winner. Nonetheless, the Brit held for an early lead.
Neither woman is blessed with massive power and if “Big Babe” tennis – à la Serena and Maria – is your thing, then this match may not have been your cup of tea. But for the tennis purists, there was plenty to enjoy. Both were prepared to use all parts of the court, and many of the rallies saw the players pushed out wide, advancing on the net and displaying their full repertoire of shots.
Watson, with slightly more pop on her shots, took the early initiative, holding for 2-1 and moving ahead 15-40.
This deficit seemed to wake up Radwanska. She tightened her game and recovered to hold for 2-2, a momentum swing that would prove significant. Watson then fluffed a swinging volley and double faulted on her way to falling behind 0-40, before Radwanska guided a winning forehand up the line for the first service break of the match.
The No.4 seed had well and truly settled, and in the seventh game, expertly worked the ball – and Watson – around the court. The Brit double faulted to cough up another break.
Serving for the set, Radwanska got tight. Two missed forehands gave Watson some hope, and she used a heavy return on the way to breaking back. An entertaining eighth game followed – again displaying the players’ all-court instincts – but the Pole showed more polish, advancing to net, forcing an error and pocketing the opening set.
Things then went rapidly downhill for Watson, especially when Radwanska played a scintillating running forehand winner from well outside the court to capture the first game of the set.
Not even a grazed finger, which required medical treatment or a brief rain delay, which forced the closure of the Hisense Arena roof could disrupt the Pole’s momentum. She played smart, safe and deep, waiting for Watson to err.
The Brit obliged. Discouraged after being passed twice at net in the fourth game, she produced a pair of errors to hand Radwanska another break and a 4-0 lead. More errors quickly made it 5-0.
The Brit staged a late rally, holding for 1-5 and bringing up two break points in the seventh game. But the world No.4 snuffed out any hope of a comeback, landing consecutive aces to reach match point. Appropriately, it ended on the very next point through another mistake from Watson.
“I really had a lot of good matches against top players this year, and I must say I'm really playing good and everything is working,” Radwanska said.
“I just hope I keep going. Of course now is going be harder and harder playing against seeded players. We'll see.”