The second round match up between Agnieszka Radwanska and Lucie Safarova is no ordinary clash between the 32nd seed and the world #66. Radwanska is a former world #2, and has made a final, two semifinals and two quarterfinals in her Wimbledon career. Safarova, previously ranked as high as 5th in the world, has also gone deep at Wimbledon in the past, having made it through to a semifinal in 2014 and is a former French Open finalist. Who will come out on top?
Safarova and Radwanska have met five times in their careers, and it has been Safarova who has had the wood over her opponent. She has won four of these matches, the sole exception coming at Linz in 2009 when Radwanska won in straight sets. Safarova’s wins, however, have generally been hard-fought, with three of them going the distance. And how much relevance these matches have is debatable as they haven’t met since 2011. In their last match, played in Moscow, Safarova won a tight battle 6-4 4-6 6-4.
Path to the second round
Radwanska made her way out of the first round by the skin of her teeth. Matched up against world #195 Elena-Gabriela Ruse, Radwanska was forced to fight throughout the match, ultimately escaping with a 6-3 4-6 7-5 win. The match lasted for two hours and 40 minutes, and Ruse had six match points at various points throughout the final set but the Romanian wasn't able to capitalise. Radwanska made no such mistake and thus booked her place in the second round.
Things were a little easier for Safarova. Although she arrived at the tournament in rather poor form, having crashed out in the second round at her last three tournaments and with just six wins so far for the season, she looked comfortable at Wimbledon. Her match only lasted a little over an hour, as she defeated Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko 6-4 6-4. Her serve was lethal, and she won 86% of the points behind her first serve.
How do they match up?
These two have very different game styles, and history suggests that it is Safarova’s more traditional style that will be successful in this match up. Safarova, a left-hander, is a powerful player. She has a very strong serve, a powerful two-handed backhand, and a heavy forehand. One area which may have a major impact on the outcome of the match is her return, which has the capacity to be damaging to either herself or her opponent, depending on the day.
Perhaps the main reason Safarova has had so much success against Radwanska, then, is the lack of power in the latter’s serve. Radwanska is extremely talented around the court and is able to pull off some extraordinary shots, with her touch amongst the best on Tour, but Safarova’s powerful returning ability may allow the Czech to capitalise on Radwanska’s vulnerable serve. But the Pole’s movement is, however, a strength, which may help her ward off Safarova's attacks.
This will be an enjoyable match to watch, with both women possessing contrasting styles, each of which is entertaining in its own right. Radwanska will need to play well on Safarova’s serve, as she is likely to be broken on more than a few occasions. Ultimately, Radwanska’s inability to hold her own serve with any regularity will cost her, with Safarova unlikely to suffer the same problems when stepping to the line. As a result, expect Safarova to win in three sets.