Agnieszka Radwanska remained solid and composed to make the quarterfinals of the Connecticut Open Wednesday afternoon. The top seeded Pole defeated Alize Cornet of France 6-4, 6-2 at the Connecticut Tennis Center on the campus of Yale University.
The rivalry heated up for the two European tennis stars for the third time this season as their last battle went to the limit. While Radwanska was fighting her way back in the ranks she had to pull out the stops to defeat Cornet in three sets at the Rogers Cup two weeks ago. While she still had her best five of the last six meetings the situation was still the same.
Both players need the win for improvement and time on court before the US Open begins Monday. Radwanska played her usual tennis defeating Vanderweghe with little trouble while Cornet continued to fight hard, this time against a little known player to survive the first round. While neither will show weakness, the battle to stay in the tournament is most imperative. A win for Radwanska was important as she was in a fight for the top spot of who would receive a million dollar bonus if they won the final Grand Slam of the year.
Both girls started the first set with game winners with Cornet leading the way with a break of serve. Radwanska followed suit but not without challenges from the Frenchwoman to quickly gain all the momentum in the match. The two kept up with the breaks while incorporating some defense on the return to win games from one another still even after four games. Cornet made a change in the course of the set as she held serve for the first time over Radwanska producing the hold after nine minutes of play.
Radwanska matched Cornet with a hold of serve leaving them in their stalemate for the third time. The Pole had enough of being in a tie with her opponent answering with a break of serve to jump ahead with a 4-3 lead. Cornet knew that she couldn’t go down any further against Radwanska. While battling from 0-40, Cornet had great returns that got her into a deuce draw.
A 20 shot rally between the two ladies ended with Cornet breaking Radwanska on a precise shot on the line to stay alive. Radwanska was relentless gaining back the advantage before she put it away with an unforced error for Cornet hitting the ball long. With a three game winning streak from Radwanska she looked to produce a win in the set having all the momentum.
In Game Nine, she was on set point on the draw where Cornet fought very hard breaking Radwanska three times to continue the set onward. Radwanska went on serve in the tenth game where she wasted no time sweeping the set with a love service ending it in 57 minutes. She served at 70 percent landing 62 percent of shots that focused highly on the left side cross court. Cornet served just 37 percent in what looked like an even match at the end but certainly not on the score.
Radwanska opened the second breaking Cornet on the serve who looked messy from the start with unforced errors. The troubles continued for her as she had fight but not enough to overtake Radwanska and win a game. It led to a 3-0 dominance from the Pole who was on the gas taking big steps away from the Frenchwoman. Cornet used what left she had in her arsenal to trick up Radwanska but the effort lasted briefly before the seventh seed marched forward.
Cornet made a stab in the set battling through deuce with Radwanska to win on the second break. Her efforts looked to be paying off early with net front presence but the unforced errors got her opponent on deuce. On two breaks Cornet took the victory on a return from Radwanska landing in the net. The victories still didn’t help out the second serve of the Frenchwoman who racked up double faults thereby giving away points.
The Pole hung around in the rallies while Cornet showed signs of breaking apart unable to maintain composure. It led to Radwanska serving for the match and a spot in the quarterfinals. In a weird start to the eighth game, Radwanska committed back to back unforced errors that gave Cornet a 0-30 lead. She got even as her opponent made the errors giving her the chance to regain control. After launching an ace, Radwanska went on match point playing a short rally where she watched the ball land long of the court ending the match in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
“I’m just very happy that I close that match in two sets,” Radwanska said during her on court interview. “It just meant that I was playing good tennis.” She maintained her serve in the mid 70s not allowing any bad moments against Cornet who was capable of countering. Unfortunately her seven unforced errors throughout the match were the result of a struggling second serve.
Despite the errors on smashing the ball, Cornet has always been a struggle for Radwanska to defeat. “There is a lot of running when playing against her,” she said. “I think the important moments I was playing good aggressive tennis and I think that was the key to that match.” Radwanska will go into the quarterfinals Thursday facing Petra Kvitova who is currently ahead and leading in the series standings.