Australian Open Third Round Preview: Agnieszka Radwanska - Monica Puig

After making light work of a troublesome opponent in round two, Agnieszka Radwanska will look to continue her run at the Australian Open against the tricky youngster Monica Puig in the third round.

How They Got Here

Radwanska has been pretty solid so far in Melbourne. She survived a wild opening round match against Christina McHale, although she played great when it mattered most and she still escaped only having lost five games. She faced a big test in three-time major semi-finalist and former world number five Eugenie Bouchard in round two, but the world number four was up to it. Radwanska fought back from a break down in the first and steamrolled through the second set to enter the third round with confidence and momentum.

Monica Puig during her epic win in round two. Photo: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images
Monica Puig during her epic win in round two. Photo: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images

Puig dominated her opening round match against another Pole, Magda Linette, cruising to a 6-3, 6-0 win. Her second round match against Kristyna Pliskova was an epic. After dropping the opening set, Puig fought back to win a tight second set tiebreak before outlasting Pliskova in an epic third set, holding on for the 9-7 win. While she will be confident after the epic win, her physical state could be a challenge and she has yet to face a seed in the tournament.

The History

The match will be the first between Puig and Radwanska.

While they have never faced before, Radwanska has the massive experience advantage. The Pole has made the fourth round or better at the Australian Open five years in a row. That is the same number of times that Puig has made it out of the first round of any major (prior to this one). The 2016 Australian Open is already the best run down under of Puig’s career. Puig reached the final of the Australian Open as a junior, but she has not turned that result into success in the main draw. She had never previously made it past the second round. The Australian Open is an event that Radwanska likes and has a good history with. 

Can Puig Solve Radwanska?

Agnieszka Radwanska is one of the toughest players to hit a winner against on the WTA Tour. Not only is she lighting fast and covers the court as well as, if not better than, anyone on the tour, she has made a career out of outthinking opponents and putting them in difficult positions to hit shots. In the last round, she completely stumped Eugenie Bouchard. No matter how much Bouchard dictated the rallies, she could not put the ball past Radwanska. To beat the world number four, you need to be more consistent than she is, while also hitting the ball harder. It is a difficult task for a lower-ranked player.

Radwanska plays a backhand during her second round match. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Radwanska plays a backhand during her second round match. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

For Puig to pull the upset, she cannot make many mistakes. At the same time, she needs to be aggressive and attack Radwanska. If Radwanska is allowed to dictate, Puig will have no chance. Puig also needs to be consistent. Bouchard was able to attack Radwanska, but it did not really matter because the Pole forced her into errors. To beat Radwanska, you need to be able to attack without missing.

Prediction: Agnieszka Radwanska in two sets

Radwanska has been at her counterpunching best so far in Melbourne and she is coming into this match with confidence after winning a match that some actually believed that she might lose. She was up to that test. Radwanska has been all but unbeatable since October. Even if Puig has recovered from her epic in round two, she does not have the consistent firepower to topple the world number four.