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Ladies' semi-final preview: discovering Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska waves to the crowd after defeating Maria Kirilenko and advancing to the semi-finals.
by Helen Gilbert
Thursday 5 July 2012

World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska is in uncharted territory in her maiden Grand Slam semi-final. Ahead of her match with Angelique Kerber, we discover some interesting facts about the top-ranked Pole...

POPULAR POLE: Agnieszka Radwanska was born in Krakow, Poland in 1989 – the year in which Poland finally broke free from communism.  Aside from Wojtek Fibak, a top 10 player on the ATP tour in the late 1970s and earlier Jadwiga Jedrejowsa, a three-time Grand Slam finalist at the 1937 Wimbledon and US Open Championships and 1939 French Open, Aga has helped put tennis on the map in her homeland. “I’m happy that I’m doing well,” she said. “Now you can see that more kids are playing tennis and there are some new facilities with tennis courts so for sure … when you buy the newspaper you can actually read something about tennis and not about football all the time.” The 23-year-old is popular both on and off the court. In 2006 she was voted WTA Newcomer of the Year and in 2011 WTA Fan Favourite Singles Player.

FABULOUS FIRSTS: And the titles do not stop there. She became the first female Polish player to win a WTA singles event in 2007 when she lifted the Stockholm trophy, the first Polish woman to rank in the top 10 (after 2008 Wimbledon) and the first Polish female player to defeat a reigning No.1 when she beat Caroline Wozniacki in Sydney this year. She is also Poland’s first Grand Slam semi-finalist of the Open Era.

RADWANSKA BY NUMBERS: Speaking of numbers, Aga has spent seven hours and 27 minutes on court so far at these Championships. The world No.3 has played a total of 98 games and lost 32. She’s dropped only one set out of 11. The 23-year-old, who stands at 5ft 8ins tall, turned pro eight years ago but began playing tennis at the age of four.  She has 10 titles to her name, three of which came this year at Dubai, Miami and Brussels.

FAMILY AFFAIR: And the sport runs in the family. Sister Urszula is a professional tennis player currently ranked 54th and, until July last year, father Robert was Aga’s full-time travelling coach. She is currently working with Tomasz Wiktorowski, Poland’s Fed Cup mentor.

MAIDEN GRAND SLAM SEMI-FINAL: Despite reaching the quarter-final stage at the Australian Open in 2008, 2011 and 2012 and Wimbledon in 2008 and 2009 a spot in the last four of a major has eluded the Pole … until now. “I'm very happy that [for the] first time I could reach a semi-final,” Radwanska said. “I really like grass. I was here two times already in quarter-finals. I'm just very happy that it's here.” At the beginning of Wimbledon she was the only player in the top 15 who had failed to reach a Grand Slam main draw semi-final.

WIMBLEDON WINNER: Agnieszka is the sole Wimbledon junior champion remaining in the draw from the field of eight that began the tournament. She is bidding to become the fifth player to go on to win the Ladies' Singles title following success in the girls’ event – a somewhat difficult feat. Ann Haydon-Jones, Karen Susman, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo are the only others to equal this achievement.  Fortunately for Aga, grass is her favourite surface.

WORLD No.1 CONTENDER? Following the fourth-round defeat of Maria Sharapova, Radwanska has a chance of rising to the top spot but she will have to defeat Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka in the final to do so.

KERBER TEST:  Between now and that special Saturday on Centre Court stands a challenge in the form of No.8 seed Angelique Kerber. The German is the first top 10 player Radwanska will face at this year’s Championships. Their head-to-head stands at two matches apiece but their contests have a habit of stretching out the three-set distance. “It’s always tough,” Radwanska said. “It's just going to be another challenge. I just hope I can still play my good tennis and we'll see.”

SCARED OF SERENA: And a semi-final victory will set up a potential final-round meeting with either four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka. But what does Radwanska make of that? Serena is just great champion. When she's on fire, I really don't want her on my part of the draw. That's for sure.”

THAT LEAVES VIKA … who has repeatedly proven to be Radwanska’s stumbling block. The Belarusian world No.2 has a 6-0 winning record over Aga this year and should she beat Serena Williams in the other semi-final, could be on course to meet Radwanska once more. But would a Wimbledon finals berth help banish the Pole’s demons? We’ll have to wait and see. 

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