Agnieszka Radwanska will face a massive gulf in experience as she takes to the court with Serena Williams in Saturday’s Wimbledon final. The Pole had never gotten past the quarterfinals of a grand slam until a few days ago and now faces a woman who will be competing in her 18th final at a grand slam.
There is plenty of reason for Radwanska to be optimistic, however. The 23 year old has had a phenomenally consistent year, claiming three titles. Indeed, should she get the victory over Williams, Radwanska would sit atop the WTA rankings for the first time.
“Everyone dreams when they are a kid about becoming No.1,” Radwanska said, according to the Wimbledon website. “So I’m very happy to have a chance to play for the top ranking.”
Radwanska has also looked mightily impressive making her way through to the final. Just one set has been dropped along the way, in a severely-rain affected quarterfinal with Maria Kirilenko. Radwanska’s appreciation for the angles on the court and the subtleties of the game has shown once again that it has the ability to leave her harder-hitting opponents frustrated.
“This is the best two weeks of my career, playing my first Grand Slam final and achieving a career-high ranking no matter what the outcome of the final is. But there is still one very tough match to go.”
Tough it certainly promises to be and Radwanska remains a massive underdog against the rampaging power of Williams. The 30 year old has looked imperious at the All England Club as she seeks to equal her sister Venus’ tally of five Wimbledon titles.
After two successive matches, against Zheng Jie and Yaroslava Shvedova, that went all the way to the wire, Williams hit form at just the right time. Back-to-back in her quarterfinal and semifinal, Williams produced two performances that harked back to her very best as she disposed of defending champion Petra Kvitova and then Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. It was a warning to the rest of the world that at her peak, Williams remains the player to beat.
Williams is not taking anything for granted in the final, though.
“I have to go out there and win,” she said. “Agnieszka has had a better year than I have. She’s been way more consistent than me. She’s done really well, so she’s ranked higher than me and she deserves to be. This is by no means going to be easy. Never, ever, do I underestimate any opponent.”
While Williams’ fitness will be tested by having also reached the final of the women’s doubles, it is the health of Radwanska which is the greater cause for concern. The world No.3 was forced to cancel a news conference on Friday as she battles a respiratory illness that has made it difficult for her to speak.
It is an unfortunate development, but in truth it is hard to envisage a fully healthy Radwanska being good enough to stop the most dominant women of her generation displaying some of her best form in in years.