Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki clash for the 16th time when they meet for a place in the Qatar Total Open quarter-finals in Doha on Thursday.
Agnieszka Radwanska plays her first match since a shock second round loss at the Australian Open to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni when she faces close friend and long-time rival Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the Qatar Total Open in Doha.
Normally such a reliable performer in Melbourne, Radwanska suffered her earliest loss at the Australian Open since 2009 when she was blown off the court by the explosive power of Lucic-Baroni, with the Polish star claiming just five games in a second round whitewash. It continued Radwanska’s less than stellar performances at the majors, with the 27-year-old advancing past the Round of 16 just twice in her last 12 grand slam appearances.
So often classified as a nearly-woman in tennis when it comes to capturing major silverware, Radwanska is running out of chances to land a grand slam title, but she has a long wait until the remaining three majors of 2017. It’s now time to focus on the prestigious Premier event in Doha. Radwanska is a five-time semi-finalist at the Qatar Total Open (including last year), but she’s never progressed to the final. Will it be sixth time lucky in 2017?
She will have to most past Caroline Wozniacki to have a chance.
Caroline Wozniacki (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
"It was important to get through this match as quick as possible, just trying to save my energy,” Wozniacki said after her win. “She's a tough player, serving well and aggressive, so I'm happy to be through in two sets and hopefully ready for the next one."
Wozniacki experienced a career resurgence towards the end of last season, highlighted by a run to the US Open semi-finals and two WTA title victories during the Asian swing at Tokyo and Hong Kong. Those results helped propel Wozniacki back into the top 20, however the Dane hasn’t really got going in 2017. Wozniacki has been her usual solid and consistent self - reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and Sydney - but she suffered losses to Julia Goerges and Barbora Strycova respectively, while she was comprehensively outplayed by Johanna Konta in the third round of the Australian Open.
Radwanska and Wozniacki played three times during the Asian Swing last year. Wozniacki won their first clash en route to the Tokyo silverware, but it was Radwanska who posted straight sets wins over the coming weeks in Wuhan and Beijing, where she won her third WTA title of 2016.
Both players are very similar and have enjoyed almost-mirror careers up to this point. Wozniacki has obviously reached No. 1 in the world and one more slam final, but both players are battling to survive and win major prizes in a contemporary tennis world that is dominated by power tennis and where the need for a stand-out weapon is almost essential. It’s really a toss-up this clash in Doha. It will be interesting to see what tactics both adopt, but usually it’s whoever remains more solid from the baseline and has the nerve to seize the initiative in rallies when the times calls for it who comes away with the win.