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Wimbledon: Radwanska survives scare by Ruse to win in three sets

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
372   //    03 Jul 2018, 02:49 IST

Wimbledon 2018 - Day One - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Wimbledon 2018 - Day One - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Agnieszka Radwanska was pushed all the way to the brink at the championships at Wimbledon Monday evening. Gabriela Ruse overcame a 0-5 run to win three in the opening set and battled the Pole all the way to the end in a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 thriller on Court One at the All England Tennis Club. Radwanska survived six match points in her opening match that almost ended too soon.

The Romanian entered her first career ladies draw and the AEC pitted against a merciless fighter on the grass courts. Despite losing a chance to make up for her absence at Eastbourne, the veteran Polish star contained her ability to play strong, and rough up the opposition with her signature style of play. The 2012 finalist would try to get beyond the round of 16 in two years and show her strong stance right from the first game.

She dictated quickly taking the first two games to rattle the Wimbledon rookie who couldn’t yet adjust to the big court. After the rival of her support staff in the stands, she got into a tug of war for the third game getting a shot on deuce. She had two chances for the AD point but backhand errors allowed Radwanska to lock it down and make it 3-0. Ruse couldn’t find a way to get in the set and lost her nerve allowing Radwanska to coast to a 5-0 run.

The young Romanian was under pressure to stay alive forcing deuce on her serve. She ran through four breaks losing the AD point on three of them in what was the longest match so far. She ended it with a winner that finally gave her a win and an applause from the crowd. With the bagel out of her mind, Ruse tried to get a second win under her belt and did so with a brilliant crosscourt net winner.

She had her third in a row making Radwanska a little nervous but with two games left to hold, she delivered the service shot that returned wide ending her problems in 38 minutes. Ruse had 22 errors throughout her opening set but made up for it with the 15 total winners made against the Polish star. With some improvements coming along for the 20-year-old, she’ll hope that would take the shape of going the distance.

She held serve to start the second set but made it difficult for Radwanska to flow through her own service game. Despite the fight on deuce, the 29-year-old got it done to level with Ruse but had to match her skills as she led the way holding again in the third. It was becoming clear that Ruse was gaining confidence as she earned her first Wimbledon break in the fourth taking a two-game lead.

Two turned into three as Ruse had a runaway on her hands taking everything she had to Radwanska who was out of ideas to recover lost ground. She held serve in the sixth but it was becoming too late as Ruse held once more to lead 5-2 on the Pole. Radwanska showed her willingness to hold off the Romanian for as long as she could proving it in a long battle in the eighth. The Pole was rewarded for her experience winning the ninth to serve for a shot at getting back control.

Ruse was done letting the set get away from her and made her mark in the match with a hard-fought break attempt that gave her the victory needed to send both of them into a third set after 52 minutes. Despite serving at 49 percent, Ruse won a large majority of them coming up big with 19 winners and three unreturned serves. Radwanska didn’t have the same elements as she lacked points won on the first serve while limiting the errors.

The Polish star was still having to match Ruse as she led the way in the third holding her own to prove a point. She remained out front through five games with Radwanska needing to stay in tow with the set. They were closing in on the end of the match with young Romanian still focused on the task at hand.

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She reached 5-4 with the match within her grasp scoring a winner away from Radwanska to reach match point. The nerves were high for the 20-year-old as she slammed a forehand into the net send the two to deuce. It gave the Polish star time to recover and get a grip on the game. She couldn’t get the AD point secured handing Ruse chances to get it done. The 20-year-old had six match points handed to her but couldn’t get it done handing Radwanska a big moment to overtake.

“To be honest, it felt like there were hundreds of them,” Radwanska said about the tenth to Lee Mackenzie. “This game was so long and obviously I think after that game I had nothing to lose. I could have lost it six times already so I’m so happy.”

Radwanska did it as the rookie committed her ninth double fault of the set that cleared the way for the Pole to push for the break and secure a 6-5 lead. It was her first time serving for a spot in the second round and secured the victory setting up perfect spots on court to earn her first match point. The big sigh of relief arrived for the 29-year-old as she completed the biggest save of her year that could have turned disastrous. The match lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes in what looked to be just another day and turned into a scary day on court.

“I expected an easier first round,” she said. “I didn’t know that I would spend almost three hours on court today but that’s tennis and she was playing really good and aggressive and the conditions were really tough today with the wind and the sun in the beginning.”

With a much needed day off after a scary turn of events, the seasoned tennis star would prepare for Wednesday second round against Lucie Safarova.

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