The 2012 Wimbledon women’s main draw singles event reaches it’s peak today at 2pm in London when the women’s singles final will be played. At Wimbledon this year the final is between No.3 seed Agnieszka RADWANSKA and No.6 seed Serena WILLIAMS.
The 23-year-old Radwanska has already achieved her career best at Wimbledon and in any Grand Slam singles event by winning through to the semi finals. The 1.72m Radwanska has made six Grand Slam quarter finals, three at Wimbledon and three at the Australian Open. The former junior Wimbledon singles champion (in 2005), further improved her career record at Wimbledon to 23-6 by defeating No.8 seed Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 10 minutes in Thursday’s semi finals.
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The 30-year-old Serena took out defending Wimbledon singles champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals. Following that Serena won her 66th Wimbledon singles match for just 8 losses be defeating reigning Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the semi finals 6-3, 7-6(8-6) in 1 hour and 36 minutes. The 1.75m American won her last Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2010.
Serena goes in with the advantage of leading Radwanska with 2 wins to none in their previous matches. Serena won the most recent encounter 6-4 6-0 at Wimbledon in 2008. Given those matches were played so long ago and Radwanska’s playing standard and experience then versus now is world’s apart, you can pretty much think of their match today like it is their first meeting.
Whether or not Radwanska continues her career best form, constant personal best results in tournaments and career-best rankings to successfully overcome the mental and emotional challenges of playing in her first Grand Slam singles final will be critical in the outcome. Another critical factor will be who prevails in this battle of a great return game player versus a great server.
Radwanska has won 29 return of serve games to Serena’s 19 going in, whereas Serena has served 85 aces to Radwanksa’s 19. Radwanska has won in quicker time, only served 2 double faults in 6 matches, lost less sets and games yet has less winners 109 to 207. Radwanska likes to use pace, Serena likes to create pace. Radwanksa walks the line of allowing her opponent to dominate her and Serena walks the line of forcing it too much and committing too many unforced errors.
Radwanska will become the World No.1 for the first time if she wins the title and be the first Polish Grand Slam singles champion ever. Serena would equal her sister Venus with 5 Wimbledon singles titles and claim a 14th Grand Slam singles title. Either way, there will be a seventh different Grand Slam singles champion from the past seven Grand Slam events, which has not happened since 1978.
A sign of how well a player is coping mentally with the challenges, opponent and occasion is how smooth, rhythmical and successful their service action can be continually executed. It will be especially interesting to see how Serena serves and performs today. In her most recent Grand Slam final the 2011 US Open, the heavily favoured Serena was unable to stay calm, really struggled to focus and could not get her serve going. Serena lost in straight set loss to another far less experienced and Grand Slam title-less player at the time, Samantha Stosur.
Radwanska is way out of Serena’s league in terms of best Wimbledon performance (first Wimbledon final versus 4-time champion, twice runner-up) and best performance in a Grand Slam (first Grand Slam final versus a 13 wins to 4 losses Grand Slam final record). However, it’s ALL about who can bring out their best tennis today and perform at a higher level than their opponent, when under pressure and at the critical SWING stages of each set and match. Game on, Ladies…PLAY!
© Serena photo credit: Kat Shann