Radwanska has a plan for grand slam success

Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:12am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Agnieszka Radwanska flirted with her goals of winning a grand slam and becoming the tennis world number one last year and, after a blistering start to 2013, will be out to tick one of those boxes at the Australian Open next week.

It would be easy to dismiss the 23-year-old Pole as another of the string of players with no particular strengths to their game who have hit the top of women's tennis in recent years only to fade back into the pack.

Radwanska has separated herself from that pack and jumped into the top five in the world not only through the usual combination of hard work and application but also by her speed of thought.

Her tactical nous, anticipation, subtlety and all-court craft have earned her comparisons with Martina Hingis and to those attributes over the last couple of weeks she has added another - form.

After "a lot of treatment and rehab in the off‑season" to clear up a few injuries, she has come out blasting in 2013 and eight straight victories have taken her to the Auckland Classic title and into Friday's final of the Sydney International.

"I'm really ready for the Australian Open," she said on Thursday after beating Li Na in the semi-finals. "I will do of course everything to win that match tomorrow as well, and we'll see. I hope to win 16 matches in a row."

Radwanska will be seeded fourth in Melbourne but her head-to-heads against the trio above her - 0-4 against Serena Williams, 2-8 against Maria Sharapova and 3-11 against Victoria Azarenka - indicate that in an ideal world she would want to avoid all of them.

Williams, who beat her in the Wimbledon final and WTA Tour finals last year, looked in even more imperious form than ever when she romped to the Brisbane warm-up title last week.   Continued...

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland hits a return to Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan during their women's singles match at the Sydney International tennis tournament in Sydney January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz