Radwanska survives test to keep Slam dream alive


Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska survived a dogfight to move into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday as she bids to end her long wait for a maiden Grand Slam title. The third seed battled past fellow veteran, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 and will next play Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang in three sets.
Radwanska, who lost in the final of the lead-up Sydney International, has consistently done well at Melbourne Park, making at least the quarter-finals in five of the previous six tournaments.
But she is yet to break through to win a title at any of the majors in 42 attempts spanning more than a decade.
“I have played her (Pironkova) many times and knew she was good,” said the 27-year-old.
“I’m very happy that I was able to come back strongly in the third set and pleased to be into the next round.”
An Australian semi-finalist last year, she is desperate to end her long wait and started methodically against Pironkova, who made the quarter-finals of the French Open last year, beating Radwanska along the way.
Nicknamed ‘The Magician’ for her shot-making, the Pole dug into her full box of tricks—including a brilliant, between-the-legs winner. Radwanska worked an early break in the third game and won the first set in just 28 minutes with a trademark cross-court backhand earning her the final point.
But Pironkova, ranked 64, has plenty of experience and was playing her 45th consecutive Grand Slam—the second longest active streak.
She has never done well at Melbourne Park, failing to go beyond the second round in 11 previous appearances, but suddenly woke up as the second set got underway. Pironkova won nine consecutive points on her way to going 2-0 in front, before Radwanska held serve in a long and crucial third game and then broke back to level the contest at 2-2. Neither player could hold serve and they traded breaks before the Bulgarian finally claimed an error-strewn second set.
But Radwanska raised her aggression in the third set and when the Bulgarian double-faulted to hand her a break and 2-0 lead, she didn’t look back, eventually winning the match with an ace. —APP

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