Agnieszka Radwanska got through one of the toughest matches of the year at the Qatar Total Open. Monica Niculescu got the best of the world ranked No. 4 pushing her on deuce over half a dozen times before going down 7-5, 6-1 on Centre Court at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha.
Last year the Romanian got a victory that evened the series between the two knocking out the Pole in the semifinal at Nottingham. With things going well so far for Radwanska, she’ll bring the fear in her opponents and work the match to her own dictation. She did well so far beating Kateryna Bondarenko in straight sets keeping it together against the strong Ukrainian. With the season’s first major way behind her, Radwanska would try to keep it going and bring home another win.
She broke with the Romanian in the first pair of games before being run for a pair to sit down 1-3. Niculescu kept her grip in the game breaking Radwanska for a third straight time. An important break for the Pole in Game Six helped her split the gap in half with a triple break. The tide changed in the set as Radwanska got a winning streak together in the seventh striking well on the serve on deuce.
When going for the chance to get even, Radwanska found it difficult to break Niculescu as they got into a draw making it the longest game of the match. After 12 minutes of action and five breaks of serve, Radwanska was the winner of Game Eight, as she held strong during rallies before the Romanian broke on an unforced error landing outside the line.
The Pole was back in control of things as she dominated on serve winning a love service against Niculescu to play for the set and try to complete a comeback. Unfortunately it was not made easy as the Romanian held strong to force the set into extra games. Radwanska used her experience in the situation and climbed ahead in the 11th and took the 12th to win 7-5 in just 56 minutes. The Polish star had a rough outing in the set averaging 54 percent on the first serve. Niculescu showed she had what it took to challenge Radwanska and would try to do so in the second set.
She challenged the Pole right into the first game where the deuce draw ended working against her. She caught a break in the second back on deuce where Radwanska’s shot went long of the baseline getting Niculescu leveled. The fight kept on deuce as a third consecutive game went to its limit causing Radwanska to push harder than ever this season. Thought Radwanska had a 3-1 lead in the set, she was still playing every game to their limits, as the Romanian seemed to have an answer for a majority of shots from across court.
Just when it looked as if she had Radwanska figured out, she let her back in the fifth game forcing the fourth deuce of the set where she failed to defense on serve and go down 1-4. The fourth best player in the world got a 5-1 hold on the set before quickly putting the match into the books for the win in 1 hour and 42 minutes.
The second set was a big improvement by Radwanska increasing the success on her first serves as well as her second landing six of ten. With her playing so many breaks in the first set she went five for five in the second set that made competing on draws easier. She’ll try to prevent it from happening again when facing the winner between Cagla Buyukakcay and Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals.