Report Card: Agnieszka Radwanska makes splash in Dubai
Agnieszka Radwanska dropped Julia Goerges in Dubai on Sunday to capture her eighth career WTA title. (Karim Sahib/Getty Images)
The Report Card hands out grades for the best and worst from the week of tennis.
Agnieszka Radwanska: B-minus. Radwanska won her eighth career title in Dubai on Sunday, defeating a strong Julia Goerges in the final 7-5, 6-4. The Pole looked to be on her way out in the first round and had to battle back from 3-5 down in the third set to Canadian Aleksandra Wozniack to win. Once she got that out of her system, it was relatively smooth sailing for the new World No. 5. She only dropped one set the rest of the week (though she didn't face anyone ranked higher than No. 13). This is what Radwanska does, she beats the players she's supposed to beat.
Dubai will be remembered as much for Radwanksa's on-court performance as her off-court comments. This is where Radwanska decided to put Victoria Azarenka on blast, saying that she lost respect for the world's No. 1 player after her injury-related histrionics in Doha. To put these comments into context, Radwanska has lost three matches this year, all to Azarenka (Sydney, Australian Open, Doha). The frustration of having her tournaments repeatedly end at the hands of her junior rival must have finally boiled over.
Maybe letting off steam helped Radwanska. She did after all go on to win the title in Dubai and didn't seem fazed at all about how her comments might go over in the locker room. But next to Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, I would put Azarenka on the list of players to whom you don't want to go give bulletin board material. She's not really a "water under the bridge" type of player, if you know what I mean.
Juan Martin del Potro: A. Slowly but surely, the 2009 U.S. Open champion is working his way back. Already back into the top 10, Del Potro is now on a quest to build his confidence against the top players. In the past two weeks he's beaten Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and his title in Marseille (defeating Michael Llodra, 6-4, 6-4) was his first of the season and 10th of his career.
"I think I am getting closer to the best players in the world," Del Potro said after the win. "I'm in the top 10 now. I beat Berdych last week and Tsonga this week. If I keep working, staying at this level, step by step, I'll get closer to the top players."
Things are slowly clicking into place for Del Potro and the sense is that if he can get more quality wins under his belt, he can finally take the parking break off his game and let it flow. He's still playing with just enough constraint to keep things safe right now and build his confidence. The next step is to remove the restrictor plate, particularly against the top four, and see if he can stay successful.
Julia Goerges: A-minus. There are times when you watch Goerges play and wonder how in the world she can be ranked inside the Top 20. Her backhand is incredibly loopy, she has no control over her cannon forehand, and her decision-making can be questionable at best. And then she comes up with one of these deep runs like she had in Dubai and all you can do is wonder why she can't play like that every week.
Goerges lost the final to the steadier Radwanska, but let's not forget what she had to do to get there. She beat Kuznetsova 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the first round, rallied back from a set down to beat Pattaya Open champion Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round, toppled ex-No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the semifinals before finally falling 7-5, 6-4 to Radwanska in a one-hour, forty-minute final.
In one of the most bizarre streaks in recent women's tennis, the semifinal victory marks Goerges' third straight win over Wozniacki. If the German can find some consistency she could be a real threat on Tour.
Jurgen Melzer: A. How exactly does one play tennis with a broken toe? Well, if you're lucky you play like Melzer did in Memphis. Despite breaking his toe in a freak hotel injury (he got it caught in a bedspread in the middle of the night), Melzer beat the top three seeds, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Radek Stepanek, to win his first ATP 500 title.
“If I play like this to win a tournament, I’ll break a toe any day,” Melzer said.
Let's not tempt fate, buddy. You've only got nine more toes and it's only February.
Sofia Arvidsson: A. Novak Djokovic said that he plays his best tennis in Dubai. Well for Sofia Arvidsson, Memphis is her Dubai. Three of her four career finals have been in Memphis, and with her win over Marina Erakovic in straight sets on Sunday, she now has two career titles, both at Memphis (she also won in 2006). This win meant more than most for Arvidsson. Her hitting partner's godson, Vilmer, passed away during the week and the Swede dedicated the tournament to his memory.
Lisa Raymond/Liezel Huber: A. The duo have run the table on the last three weeks, winning three titles in three weeks in Paris, Doha, and now Dubai. The pair secured their third straight title by notching their first win in four tries against Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza.
Their last meeting was shrouded in controversy, but this time Raymond/Huber made it decisive with a 6-2 6-1 win in 67 minutes. With Olympic selections coming in a few months, Raymond/Huber are making a good case to be selected and Huber is vocal about her desire to be the team to represent the United States in London. "Absolutely we're going to be playing," Huber said. "I think it would be crazy if our country didn't select us to go as the team."