For now, Urszula Radwanska must live with tennis fans referring to her as “the other Radwanska sister.” Urszula is the younger sister of Agnieszka Radwanska, the world’s number two women’s player who just lost a close Wimbledon final match to Serena Williams. Yet having achieved a career high ranking of 54 this June, Urszula Radwanska seems to have the fire and grit, as well as some of the game, to make a name of her own, but if she expects to breath in the rarified air of her sister, she will have to make some improvements
Employing a serve-and-volley, aggressive net game(yes I said serve-and-volley) rarely seen on the tour these days, even among the men, Radwanska took down WTA tour veteran Eleni Daniilidou in an entertaining, come-from-behind three set match (3-6, 6-3, 6-4).
Click photo: Radwanska's first serve was consistently over the century mark and she was not afraid to follow it to the net and put away a volley.
Taking Time Away
Selectively coming in several times behind a powerful first serve (reaching 106 mph), and moving in whenever Daniilidou’s shots fell short, Radwanska continually pressured her opponent, while deftly putting away a host of volleys.
Radwanska earned her victory with this refreshingly retro net game, the kind of game last seen back in the days when players like Martina Navratilova roamed the hard courts.
If Urszula Radwanska does indeed want to move up in the rankings enough so that fans drop the “other sister” moniker, she will have to address her weak second serve. She averages 100-106 mph on the first serve, and with good movement to the net and soft hands, she turns this good first serve into a weapon. But her second serve is a major liability.
Click photo: If Radwanska expects to mix it up with the big girls, she has improve a very weak second serve.
Just as we saw with Andy Murray in the men’s Wimbledon final this year, where his second serve dropped some 50 mph (135 to 85), Radwanska’s second serve falls off a cliff, dropping some 50 mph (105 to 65) and with same negative consequences. If she expects to mix it up with the big girls on the WTA tour, she has to address this weakness, because the "Big Babes are going to eat her for lunch.
For TennisOne readers, Radwanska’s second serve exemplifies the “un-integrated serve” covered so extensively in TennisOne Senior Writer’s Doug King’s recent serve analyses. Forcefully swinging the racquet back at take-back (with a strange and unnecessary twist of the wrist), Radwanska fires from the trophy position too early, and she levels her shoulders too soon (thus losing that “vertical strike” orientation).
In this rather stiff motion she loses any positive dynamic from her kinetic chain, as well as losing the last coils of the arms and hand going into contact. The net result is an “armed” serve” traveling some 65 mph. Despite this glaring weakness, she survived this match against #111 Daniilidou—who had massive serving problems of her own.
Click photo: Daniilidou's service toss did her in, causing her to throw in 10 double faults.
Eleni Daniilidou’s serve is more flowing and has little of the forceful racquet swing-back issues that undermine Radwanska’s service action, but her toss is a study in what not-to-do for recreational players. There are four problems with Daniilidou’s toss. First, her tossing motion is out in front of her body rather than an integrated toss (with the natural coil of the body) that brings the tossing arm swing parallel to the baseline.
Secondly, she flips the ball out of her hand with a bent elbow rather than keeping her elbow straight and her wrist/hand passive. The result was a number of errant tosses throughout the match, some of which she caught with an apology to her opponent but many of which resulted in double-faults.
Third, she tosses the ball too early rather than releasing the ball as the arm naturally extends up, thereby losing more control.
Finally, she tosses the ball extremely high, forcing her to break up the rhythm of her serve as she waits in the trophy position to hit this high toss. A good server can sometimes compensate for one or two technical flaws in the toss. But no server, at any level of competition, can regularly survive throwing in 10 double-faults a match. And yesterday at the Bank of the West, Eleni Daniilidou couldn’t do either.
Tonight at 7, legendary greats Micheal Chang and Pete Sampras square up at the Bank of the West Classic.
Sampras vs Chang Tonight at 7 pm
The Bank of West tournament, the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world, is delivering a rare treat for Bay Area tennis fans at this year’s tournament—three Hall of Fame players, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, and Jim Courier.
Tonight at 7 pm at Pete Sampras squares off in an exhibition match against his longtime rival Michael Chang. Tomorrow night Sampras plays former world number one and current Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. Finally, on Friday night, Courier plays Chang.
This, my friends, is a great way to spend an evening.
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