Defending champion Radwanska into Dubai quarter-finals
By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - World number four Agnieszka Radwanska overcame a misfiring serve to beat Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva 7-5 6-3 in the second round of the Dubai women's tennis championships on Wednesday.
The Pole, who received a first-round bye, lost three of her first four service games on an overcast centre court and she will need to improve if she is retain her Dubai title, with Petra Kvitova or Ana Ivanovic awaiting her in the next round.
"For me, the first match is always a bit tricky," Radwanska told reporters. "I didn't hit on the centre court here this year, and I was just practicing outside - it was actually much faster. I was surprised - the ball is just not going anywhere and it was tough for me."
Serving at 3-3, Radwanska saved four break points after falling 0-40 behind, but Putintseva was undeterred and she earned another break point with a forehand winner down the line that fizzed past the advancing Pole. Rattled, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist double-faulted to fall 4-3 behind.
Radwanska, 23, responded by coming to the net more frequently to force Putintseva, ranked 101 in the world, to play on the back foot.
The Kazakh, seeking her third victory over a top-50 player, was found wanting and Radwanska broke for 4-4, with six out of eight games going against serve.
Putintseva, who beat Britain's Laura Robson in an all-teenage first-round battle, prefers brute force over finesse and although a fast hitter, she consistently played the ball too short, allowing Radwanska to stay in rallies with relative ease.
The Pole was too out of sorts to fully exploit her opponent's shortcomings but as the overcast sky gave way to a muggy desert sun she also upped the playing temperature on court, earning two set points with a flat forehand winner down the line. She needed only one as a tempestuous Putintseva smashed an attempted winner long. Continued...