In front of the biggest crowd in attendance for a women’s final since 1998 at the Sony Ericsson Open, Agneiszka Radwanska, the world number four, who has been impressive the last twelve months surprised world number two Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4 to bank her first title in Miami.
These two ladies had battled eight previous times with Sharapova coming out on top on seven occasions. Radwanska’s sole win was as an eighteen year old at the U.S. Open in 2007. Consequently, all seemed in Sharapova’s favor as she tried to capture her first Sony Ericsson title after being disappointed on three prior tries, the last in 2011.
Sharapova always the aggressor had her initial break point of the opening set by striking a winner. Yet, with her forehand traveling long, Sharapova could not capitalize. Thus, Radwanska held for 3-2.
On her second break point, Sharapova misfired on a backhand return. Once more, Radwanska went on to guard serve for 4-3.
At 5-6, Sharapova flubbed a forehand overhead giving Radwanska triple set point. With Sharapova dumping a return into the net, Radwanska obtained the break and the set by striking just one winner.
Errors are not unexpected considering Sharapova’s game. She had 20 in the opening set compared to her rival’s 8. Radwanska’s movement can be a headache with Sharapova’s style of play which was conspicuous as Sharapova nearly slammed her racket in the third game of the second set.
Just as in the previous set, Sharapova had the initial break point. However, with one of Sharapova’s many forehands landing wide, in the end, Radwanska inched ahead 4-3.
Subsequent to getting out of a 0-30 game to square the match at 4-4, Sharapova found herself in a deeper predicament serving to extend the match.
With the third forehand mistake of the game, Radwanska arrived at 15-40 which signified double championship point. As Sharapova sent her fourth forehand out of play, Radwanska a first time finalist in Miami became the victor.
This season Sharapova has been in three finals (Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami) without seizing the opportunities. Moreover, since rejoining the tour after her shoulder surgery, Sharapova is 5-8 in finals beforehand she was 19-8.
Sharapova stated that age does not lead to easier acceptance of defeat “it’s always tough, you do a really good job to get there. It’s obviously always the toughest round”.
As far as Radwanska’ performance “I thought she played extremely well, was very consistent, got that extra ball back and I made that extra mistake. She didn’t give me many errors. When I had my chances at break point, I didn’t take them. When she had them, she did”.
The forehand was a disappointment on Sharapova’s side today at crucial stages “she got that extra ball back and I went for a little bit more than I had to and I made the error”.
Sharapova welcomes the upcoming challenge of clay “I feel like I’ve improved with every year that I have been playing on it and I enjoy it. I’m looking forward to taking a little break now but getting on the clay and starting the practice”.
If it were not for her three knockdowns by Victoria Azarenka, Radwanska would be undefeated this season. In discussing her play today, Radwanska cited “ I really played well from the beginning till the end. I was really focused on my serve, and I’m very happy I didn’t lose my serve. It was actually I think the key on this match”.
Radwanska improved her WTA finals mark to 9-2 in capturing the hugest title of her career to date. Regarding her recent success, Radwanska expressed “I feel really much better and confident on court. I’m very happy that I can play consistent tennis and play a couple of matches in a row at a good level”.
What’s her next goal? Radwanska iterated “ I’m very happy that I can be for the first time top 4. It’s still far, [but] if I’m gonna play like here, hoping I can reach top 3 very soon”.