It was a battle of the two winless women in the Red Group at the WTA Finals. US Open champion Flavia Pennetta faced off against Agnieszka Radwanska with both looking to get off the mark in Singapore. It was the Italian who would earn that win and keep her in solid position to advance to the semifinals after a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over the Pole.
Radwanska Strikes First Blood But Pennetta Rallies From Behind To Steal Opening Set
The Italian fell behind while serving in the opening game of the match. At 15-30, Pennetta looked to be dictating the point with Radwanska well behind the baseline, but a return that caught the line which forced Pennetta into a defensive position changed the point. The US Open champion was forced to lob the ball to keep herself in the point, and Radwanska clipped the line on her forehand and then played a well-placed drop shot which the Italian could not get to. Radwanska would go on to break in that opening game and consolidated for a 2-0 lead.
In that game, the Tianjin Open champ once again showed off her arsenal of shots by drop-shotting Pennetta’s forehand return and then passed her on a backhand slice. Pennetta continued to fight on and would get the break back at 15 in the sixth game to level the match at three-all. That break back lasted only for so long though as former Wimbledon finalist broke for 4-3, also at 15.
With Radwanska serving for the set, she would go on to face a break point. Her and Pennetta would exchange backhands, and it was the Italian who would wound up on top after she forced Radwanska to hit one long and the match was nodded up again, this time at five-all. Both players would hold at love, and a tiebreak would determine the set.
With the tiebreak back on serve with Pennetta down 3-4, she used her backhand to open up the court to get Radwanska on the move and capped off the point with a backhand winner down the line. On the second set point, the Italian gave Radwanska a bit of her own medicine with a drop shot. The Polish number one was able to get to it and hit an angled return, but the Italian was there anticipating that return and hit a winner into the open court to take the opening set.
Pennetta’s Backhand Does The Damage To Take The Match
Unlike the opening set, there wasn’t too much drama going on in the first few service games for each player. However with Radwanska serving at 3-all, Pennetta once again used her favorite backhand to open up some space as she hit a fantastic backhand winner down the line to set up three set points. She would convert on the third of those three to go up 4-3.
On a crucial point at 30-all with the Italian forced to hit a second serve at 4-3, she went with a gutsy second serve out wide which clipped the line and was not returned by Radwanska. That would set up game point which she would hold for a 5-3 lead. After failing to convert three match points in the ninth game, Pennetta stormed her way to match point with another backhand winner down the line. After that point, commentator Tracy Austin had the perfect description for it by saying the backhand “was on fire."
A serve out wide on match point was returned back to the Italian's backhand, and you can guess how she finished the match off. Yes, it was another backhand winner for her to take the match in straight sets and to give her first win at the WTA Finals.
Both women are still alive after two matches in the Red Group. Pennetta sits with the better chance of advancing with a 1-1 record, but even at 0-2, Radwanska still has a shot but needs lots of help. Pennetta will face 2-0 Maria Sharapova next while Radwanska will face Simona Halep.
Pennetta tops the group if:
she defeats Sharapova in straights and Halep wins in three OR
she defeats Sharapova in straights and Radwanska wins her match OR
she defeats Sharapova in three and Radwanska wins her match
Pennetta advances if:
she wins in straights and Halep wins in straights OR
she loses to Sharapova in three and Radwanska wins in straights
Radwanska advances if:
she defeats Halep in straights and Sharapova wins in straights.