WTA Shenzhen: Alison Riske creates huge upset over Agnieszka Radwanska

This Shenzhen Open quarterfinal match between Alison Riske and Agnieszka Radwanska was a rematch of the last year’s final, which the Pole won in straight sets, just losing a total of five games throughout the match. Radwanska enters this match as the heavy favourite as she was the higher-ranked of both, and has never once lost more than five games in a match against her, let alone a set or a match. The 2012 Wimbledon finalist entered the quarterfinals making comebacks in all her matches, first starting with saving three match points in her opening match of 2017 and following it up with a six games streak to come from 0-3 down in the second set of her second-round match to triumph in straight sets. Whereas, Riske had a much easier path to the quarterfinals as she did not lose any sets and was looking in great form. Unexpectedly, what most of us could not think of, Riske could. The American created a huge upset to defeat the top-seeded Pole in three sets, despite a mid-match wobble.

Alison Riske at the Bank of the West Classic 2016 | Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images North America
Alison Riske at the Bank of the West Classic 2016 | Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images North America

Riske off to great start

The American got off to a perfect start as her precise groundstrokes managed to overpower the world-class defense of Radwanska, who did not look fully focused on the match at the start. Riske then managed to consolidate her break of serve with a comfortable hold of serve, as Radwanska was still unable to turn defense into offense and take control of the match. The Pole knew that a comeback in the first set would be very difficult as Riske soon jumped out to a double break lead, and was playing her best tennis. Riske looked to be running away with the first set and inflict a bagel on the Pole as she broke once more to give her confidence a further boost. Closing the set out was not meant to be that easy though, as Radwanska got one of the three breaks back and held her serve to lessen the deficit. Riske finally took the set on her second chance to serve out the set, after 37 minutes.

Agnieszka Radwanska in action | Photo: AFP/STR/Getty Images
Agnieszka Radwanska in action | Photo: AFP/STR/Getty Images

Radwanska fights back

A chance of a straight sets victory seemed to be gone after Radwanska finally looked like her focus was in the match and soon went up a double break lead to lead 4-0 in the scorelines. However, Radwanska lost one of the breaks as soon as the next game after she threw in some unforced errors, coupled with some great returns from Riske, to allow the American to get onto the scoreboard in the second game. From then, both players were unable to make any breakthrough in their return games, and Radwanska eventually closed out the second set 6-3 to level the match at one set all.

Riske runs off with upset

A comfortable hold of service and a break of serve to start the final set with meant that Riske was up for some serious business, as Radwanska’s first round opponent Duan Ying-Ying also went up a break in the final set and held three match points before losing the tight affair. Many expected the Pole to make yet another comeback to win the match, but Riske proved everyone wrong when she broke for the sixth time in the match to have a double break lead once again and be the favourite for the victory at this stage of the match. Riske finally completed the big upset over the reigning champion in the sixth game, by breaking for the seventh and final time to inflict a bagel on Radwanska, the first player to do so since Carla Suarez Navarro did so in Doha, and to exact revenge for her loss in the final last year.

Alison Riske at Melbourne Park in 2016 | Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images AsiaPac
Alison Riske at Melbourne Park in 2016 | Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images AsiaPac

Match Statistics

Riske ended the match with a total of 67 percent of first service points being won, while Radwanska had very disappointing service statistics, having only won 51 percent of first service points and seen her serve being broken a total of seven times in the match. In the last set, Radwanska only won two points on the return, which can be considered her worst performance in a long while.

Next up for Riske

The next opponent for Riske in the semifinals would be Camila Giorgi, who have also had a great tournament here in Shenzhen. The pair split their previous meetings and it would be a tight affair as both players are in their best form and look to reach the final to have a great start to the season.

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