By Ros Satar- In Indian Wells
- Agnieszka Radwanska  def. Petra Kvitova  6-2 7-6(3)
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Showing some impressive form, Agnieszka Radwanska was first into the WTA BNP Paribas Open semi-finals with a straight sets win over Petra Kvitova.
Having beaten the two-time Grand Slam champion Kvitova most recently in a battle for the WTA Finals title indoors in Singapore, the Pole came out battling, putting Kvitova under pressure early. To give the Czech her due, she has been coming in a lot more this week and has worked hard to adjust to the conditions that have upended a lot of capable seeds this week.
Maybe over-pushing just a touch, Radwanska was seeing the ball like a football as she quickly leapt out to a 5-1 lead. Kvitova managed to stop the run of four games to force the third seed to serve for the set. With first serve percentages she would rather forget, Kvitova was facing yet another three setter to keep her dreams of getting further than before at Indian Wells, her previous best being this stage in 2013, where she lost to Maria Kirilenko.
With the crowd willing her to make a match of it, Kvitova duly obliged with her first break of he match, responding to being pegged straight back with another break of her own. Charging ahead to serve for the set, Radwanska injected some more magic into the proceedings with the set coming alive with some great exchanges between the pair, as bit by bit the Pole nibbled away at the deficit to draw level at 5-5.
A couple of unlucky net-cords (obviously made in Poland) proved pivotal, none more so that in the tie-breaker, dribbling a shot from Kvitova just wide along the tape, and then obligingly tumbling over the net for Radwanska to bring up her first match point.
Converting on her second, Radwanska was the first into the semi-final round-up and must surely fancy her chances now of erasing her injury-marred last appearance in the final in 2014, when she lost to Flavia Pennetta.
The spring hard-court swing (and the later autumnal swing on the way to the US Open for that matter) are really not Kvitova’s thing. The dry desert air here, the humidity in Miami all make it quite the battle for the asthmatic Czech, but she could at least try to find some positives.
“I was kind of tired from everything. I think I didn’t feel that confidence. Playing Aga it’s about the small, about the small centimetres which I was missing today I think for every shot. I think I had a good chance in the second set, but she came back strong. The tiebreak I think was just very unlucky. But I think that overall the tournament here was great for me.
“I had four matches, which is great. I just feel that that can help me, for sure. Another hard court tournament is coming. In Miami with the humid it’s not really easy for me, but I think that the other conditions will be helpful, hopefully. I think that the surface is a little bit faster, so that’s I think will help my game.”
Radwanska has been solid throughout the year, and has been very much focused on continuing the momentum from last year, as she explained after the match.
“I had couple of matches, good matches going to that quarter. I really felt good. I remember our last match, and it’s never easy against Petra. I think I was playing great tennis from the beginning and I really want to win that one. I was fighting for each ball. Of course 5-2 down in the second set is never easy, but I was talking on the court already that I had some experience with that this tournament. Just one break, so I’m just very happy that I would be able to come back, because third set with Petra is never easy, as well.”
It can’t escape anyone’s notice that this is of course an Olympic year, and with that comes a lot more drain on resources – so just how much had she done in the off-season to prepare?
She told us: “Sometimes you want to do too much in the offseason. Sometimes we are all thinking more is better, but it’s not true, really. I have a really good rest. Didn’t do anything throughout three weeks and then I started very slow.
“I didn’t really change anything. I definitely knew it’s [going to] be really long season with the Olympics, as well. So I just also thinking about not January but also about the US Open Series. So you really have to think ahead and not doing too much in the beginning, because then you’re going to be for sure exhausted.
“After those seven weeks in Asia playing so much, three weeks was like two days (Smiling.) I really wanted another three weeks, trust me. But, well, I knew that I had to come back on court. That was already enough rest. I couldn’t do any more. I wish I would have, but… (Smiling).”
Of course being the first one in, she can afford herself a nice slice of cheesecake, put her feet up and watch Serena Williams and Simona Halep battle it out to face her.
“Good question. I don’t know, but definitely [a] different one. Maybe banana cheesecake. Obviously we don’t know who are playing next. This is definitely a 50/50 match. Really gonna watch that one. I really have nothing to lose against both of them.”
The semi-finals will be played on Friday.