One of the joys of a wonderful friendship is sharing fantastic experiences together, so when good pals Agnieszka Radwanska and Angelique Kerber both qualified for a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time there was much cause for celebration.
The only obstacle was that they would both face each other on the other side of the net and there could, of course, only be one winner. This afternoon it was the No.3 seeded Pole who emerged triumphant, recording a 6-3, 6-4 victory in 70 minutes.
The last time Radwanska ventured out on the second Saturday of the Championships was seven years ago at the tender age of 16. On that occasion she was playing in the girls’ singles event and went on to lift the trophy. Now Aga, as she is affectionately known, finds herself in a final once again, only this time it’s the ladies' singles event – the furthest she’s ever travelled in a Grand Slam.
“I remember 2005, of course,” the beaming Pole said after the match. “It’s been [feels] like one year and it was seven years ago... I will try everything in my power to hold the trophy again.”
Of course she will have to wrestle four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams for the Venus Rosewater dish and she is under no illusion about the challenge that lies ahead. “She’s a very tough opponent and hitting the ball very well,” Radwanska said. “Of course, she’s playing great tennis on the grass.”
Yet Kerber has every faith in her friend to lift the trophy on Saturday. “I think she has, for sure, some chances in the final,” she said. “She needs to play her game. I mean she played very well. She moved well on this court, making not many mistakes. So if she will play like today, I think she has a good chance.”
Radwanska had played Kerber on four previous occasions, with the head-to-head standing at two matches apiece and a history that told of lengthy three-set tussles. But this afternoon she only needed two to see off her opponent.
More often than not it was Kerber who came off worse in the lengthy rallies which saw Radwanska open up the court with sharp-angled shots generated from either the back of the court or forays to the net. When Radwanska served in the second, at 5-4, for arguably the most important match of her career, the question was whether the No.3 seed could keep her composure. When the Pole hit what she believed to be an ace, Kerber challenged. Radwanska was already on the other side of the court but Hawk-Eye called the ball out and she was forced to walk back and play a second serve. She promptly lost the point when her left-handed opponent fired off a blistering cross-court winner. But Radwanska remained unflustered and simply bided her time. Very soon she was in possession of two match points, but only needed the one when Kerber fired a backhand out of the court.
In Serena Williams, Radwanska now faces a much more powerful opponent, but she isn’t worried. “I think it doesn’t matter who I’m going to play in the final. I think I don’t really have anything to lose, so I'm just going to try my best,” she said.
“Every player is different but most of the players are powerful. I’m just going to try to mix up everything. Of course, every match is different, so I’ll see after tomorrow how it’s going to be.”