Urszula Radwanska in capturing the Wimbledon girls' title last year, just like her elder sister Agnieszka had done two years earlier, signalled a new sister act had arrived in town. Now, Poland's answer to the Maleevas of Bulgaria, the Bondarenkos of Ukraine, and, of course, the Williams sisters of the United States, the Krakow kin threaten to turn Poland into a bona fide "tennis nation".
Since her own junior triumph at the All England Club in 2005, Agnieszka has made the transition to the senior ranks with style, grace and confidence. The elder Radwanska has collected four Tour titles on her way to her current ranking of 11, including Eastbourne just last week. And, by defeating Elena Dementieva in the final at Istanbul in May, she passed another kind of milestone: the million dollar mark in prize-money.
Now it's Urszula's turn to hold up her side of the bargain. So far, moving up has been a challenge. Now 17, this year she has fallen in the qualifying rounds at Hobart, the Australian Open and, more recently, Prague, the French Open and Eastbourne. Nonetheless, she has improved by
about 60 places in the rankings, and by virtue of her exploits at SW19 last year, the world number 190 was granted a wild card at these Championships. She certainly made the most of the opportunity in the first round, beating Czech Klara Zakopalova, 6-1, 6-4, for her first main draw win.
The reward for that effort is a chance to strut her stuff against eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, on Centre Court no less.
The younger Radwanska has a reputation for being rather more fiery than Agnieszka, and she will need to channel that energy in just the right way to stand any chance against the world number six. The drop shot is Radwanska's favourite ploy, so Williams can expect to scramble now and then, and her forehand also has the potential to cause damage.
Given the gulf in experience, it is probably too early to talk of an upset. But Radwanska is a fighter, and it is only natural she be keen to steal some of her sister's limelight. A good showing today would more than do the trick.Adam Lincoln
Labels: Poland, Tennis