The S-Thread For 1/21/13: The Australian Open Day 9 Quarterfinal Stage (1st Version)
Pre-Match Runthrough: 4) A. Radwanska vs 6) Li
Quarterfinal time at the Australian Open, and a key matchup expected to be the closest matchup on paper of all the singles matches left on both fields is first up on Laver. Aga Radwanska will look to continued her flawless January and record her 2nd straight win against an improving but still unpredictable Li Na.
With no offense to their matchup at the Apia international 11 days ago, their matchup today will be the true examination to see who will be the early challenger to the Top 3.
Some, including myself, feel that Radwanska has already displayed her legitimacy at challenging those ahead of her in the rankings. It has been the true perfect start to the 2013 for the Polish ace, with no matches dropped, let alone sets for that matter.
Radwanska's balance of positive emotion with subtle "Come Ons" on winning key points with her usual calm demeanor has been a major benefit to her. In the past before she started her rise to elite status in summer 2011, Radwanska would get negative at the wrong times, leading to unconfident push strokes that fell farl short in the court against against aggressive power hitters. Although that can still occasionally happen, she has done a great job to curb that, with her only major problem being her congested schedule.
The latter seemed to be rearing its ugly head again with her decision to play the first two weeks of the season, but her perfect 26 out of 26 sets record and getting a day off this tournament leads everyone to believe that a lack of energy from her won't be prevalent.
That is vital for Radwanska, because Li thrashed here badly in their two post Olympic meetings last summer (6-2, 6-1 in Montreal and then 6-1, 6-1 in Cincinnati) as Radwanska wasn't 100% while Li was on top form. Li added to her control of the rivalry with a 6-4, 6-2 victory in Beijing three months ago, making it seem like Radwanska would always struggle with Li's ability to match her movement while having more power in her strokes.
That however changed in Sydney, as Radwanska found he first serve placement and speed for arguably the first time against Li in their nine encounters, and placed Li in more difficult positions to hit winners with much better depth. Yes, Li made too many errors on the day, but Radwanska energy level was far superior than their last three meetings and a major key.
It's been that type of level of that gives Radwanska the edge in this match, something I would have thought a little inconceivable two weeks ago. Although Li improved her serve dramatically in the second set against Julia Goerges two days ago, it's still isn't at the elite level I thought she would make it in the offseason with coach Carlos Rodriguez.
Still, she can control the match based on her power alone and will always feel confident in trying to accomplish that again on Radwanska. But for the 2nd time in three weeks, I just think Radwanska shows the impervious level she is at to overcome Li in three sets.