The International Women’s Open finals, the last grass court competition prior to Wimbledon, featured Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwanska, ranked 14th in the world and seeded 4th , against tour veteran Russian Nadia Petrova, ranked 22nd and seeded 8th . The day belonged to the youngster. Radwanska, a former Wimbledon junior champion, captured her first grass court WTA title by defeating Petrova 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.
In the middle of the first set, the players exchanged a few breaks of serve. The critical difference came at 4-5. Petrova after breaking to get back on serve, leading 40-15, lost the next four points and the set due to brilliant play by the teenager.
Although Petrova possesses a big serve, she aided her opponent’s plight by throwing in a few double faults. But, in the second set despite some initial difficulties, Petrova managed to hold on to her serve. Further, the Russian pounced on whatever second serve came from Radwanska. That tactic along with increasing her first serve percentage and moving forward to finish points at net proved very effective. Petrova was rewarded with a break point and went up 3-1. Yet, in the eight game, with a double fault and missed volley, Petrova’s lead vanished 4-4. Serving to extend the set with a tiebreak, thanks to a net court and an error on the return, Petrova prevented Radwanska from claiming the title. In the tiebreak, the Russian saved three match points. Finally at 11 points all, Nadia served an ace which got her to set point. A weak second serve by Radwanska produced a deep return reply by Petrova, resulting in Agnieszka making an error. Now, it was on to a third set.
Despite Petrova skating on thin ice at times, there were no break chances for either player in the first eight games. The golden opportunity came for Radwanska in the ninth, which she took to get in front 5-4. Then, the Polish teen kept her composure and closed out the match on her service game. Albeit Radwanska won three prior titles this year, as a tier II event, Eastbourne marked the biggest win of her career. Currently, she has a perfect record in finals 4-0.
The only top ten players at Eastbourne Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli, seeded one and two respectively, were upset. The former dispatched in the second round and the latter ousted in the semifinals by Radwanska. Could this be a peak at Agnieszka’s future success next week at Wimbledon? It’s hard to predict. Justine Henin was victorious the last two years at Eastbourne. Yet, the last woman to win both trophies was Jana Novotna in 1998.