Radwanska Survives Scare

She may have lost the match, but she certainly won the hearts of those who saw her epic battle against a top 10 player.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 19 Feb 2010, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:54 AM

With her powerful two-handed backhands, solid ground-strokes and that ability to serve an ace under pressure, 20-year-old Russian qualifier Regina Kulikova brought back memories of a certain Monica Seles, pushing the current world number 9 Agnieszka Radwanska to the limit.

But Radwanska eventually clinched the thriller (3-6 6-4 6-3) in two hours and 17 minutes to reach the semifinals of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

It seemed Kulikova’s dream run would never end. After her stunning victory over French Open champion and world number four Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round on Wednesday, the Russian rarely played a false shot in the first set on Thursday.

The 22-year-old Radwanska hit back though with some superb tennis and in the end, she and a punishing schedule (Kulikova had played six matches in six days including the qualifiers) became too hot to handle for the emerging Russian.

In the third quarter-final, world number six Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was at her mesmerising best as she demolished Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-3 to reach the semifinals.

Earlier on Court One, Li Na’s aching back conspired against everyone who wanted to see the Chinese in the semis. The Australian Open semifinalist had to retire due to a back injury after she was trailing 5-7 0-3 in her quarter-final match against Shahar Peer of Israel.

Thus Peer, the world number 22, became the first player to reach the semifinals of the 2010 Dubai Tennis Championships.

She will now play the winner of the quarter-final match between defending champion Venus Williams of the USA and Anastasia Pavlyuchenko of Russia.

Li, who was badly struggling with her back problem, also received medical attention during the match.

“Towards the end of the first set, I hit a high backhand, and then I heard like crack, and I was feeling like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And after the first set I called an official, and she checked. And then I went and tried two more games. But, after that, I was feeling worse, so I pulled out,” a dejected Li later told reporters.

Na said she could have won the first set. “No, actually I had a set point. But, I mean, she was fighting a lot on the court. I missed a lot of chances today.”

The Australian Open semifinalist said she had no regrets. “I mean, if you do well in the Melbourne semifinal, that doesn’t mean you will reach semifinals in all tourneys. I mean, this is tennis.

“Only one tournament you can do well. You could play best in second tournament and third tournament. I mean, there are always ups and downs,” the world number 10 added.


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