WTA Rogers Cup first round preview: Agnieszka Radwanska vs Coco Vandeweghe

Agnieszka Radwanska faces a tough opener at the Rogers Cup as she was drawn to face Coco Vandeweghe in the first round, a very tough draw for the tenth seed. The Pole would be looking to find her best tennis once again while Vandeweghe aims to extend her good run of form recently.

WTA Rogers Cup first round preview: Agnieszka Radwanska vs Coco Vandeweghe
Radwanska and Vandeweghe exchange a handshake at the net after their match in New Haven a couple of years back | Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

The season’s most notable underachiever Agnieszka Radwanska would look to keep herself in the Top 10 as she enters the Rogers Cup ranked at the tenth position exactly and was handed a very tough draw. Narrowly missing out on a first-round bye, Radwanska only has her poor luck to blame as the in-form Coco Vandeweghe would be her first opponent in Toronto and a deep run would be difficult to achieve since another hard-hitter, Timea Babos, could possibly await in the second round before a potential meeting with good friend Caroline Wozniacki.

Radwanska’s recent results

Radwanska’s last tournament was at the Wimbledon Championships where she mounted a confidence-boosting run which included a win over veteran Jelena Jankovic, a former world number one, saving a match point against the hard-hitting Christina McHale and a tough three-set victory over the dangerous and tricky Timea Bacsinszky. However, her run came to an abrupt stop as she fell to her nemesis Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets, but it was a good run nevertheless. Despite so, her season has generally been dull as she suffered from a couple of injury problems which hindered her from playing her best tennis, owning just a 14-11 win-loss record this year, the worst percentage in any year of her career.

Agnieszka Radwanska in action at the Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Agnieszka Radwanska in action at the Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Vandeweghe’s recent results

After a successful outing at the Wimbledon Championships where she stormed to the quarterfinals without losing a set, Vandeweghe returned to her best surface and played the tournament where she was first exposed to the limelight at the Bank of the West Classic in 2012, having reached the final then as a lucky-loser. There, she had yet another impressive run as the American looked great in front of her home crowd, playing some world-class tennis to put her in the contention for the title amongst the field which featured Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova.

Totally outgunning fourth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals, her serve was broken for the first time in the tournament against compatriot Catherine Bellis but she still managed to stroll to a comfortable straight sets victory a little over an hour. The amazing performance sent Vandeweghe to her first final of the year, setting up a meeting with the resurgent Madison Keys. Despite falling in a tough straight sets match, it was truly an impressive week for the American who instead won the doubles title.

Coco Vandeweghe in action at the Bank of the West Classic | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
Coco Vandeweghe in action at the Bank of the West Classic | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Head to Head

Radwanska leads their head-to-head 4-1, having won their first four meetings dating back to 2014. The Pole’s victories over the Americans saw her not lose a single set in the process, and only lost a maximum of four games in a set throughout all four encounters. However, Vandeweghe finally broke the duck against the former world number two at the Aegon Classic last year as she broke through the stubborn Radwanska defense to triumph in three sets, and eventually became the runner-up of the tournament.

Match Analysis

Agnieszka Radwanska would have to play some incredible tennis to defeat the in-form Vandeweghe, who reached the finals in both the singles and doubles event at the Bank of the West Classic. She has to be solid in her defense, and take every small opportunity to make any form of breakthroughs. The Pole also cannot afford to be too defensive and she should try to be a little more aggressive in her play, aiming for the lines and absorbing the power of Vandeweghe’s powerful groundstrokes to move her around the court.

Agnieszka Radwanska in action at the Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Agnieszka Radwanska in action at the Wimbledon Championships | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Just as her style of play suggests, Radwanska must mix in the drop shots and magical net play to increase her chances of triumphing, and should try to prevent Vandeweghe from dictating play throughout all the rallies. She could also attempt for a higher first serve percentage as she is not the best of servers and her second serves are easily exploited by powerful opponents like the American but if she were to find her best tennis again, the win would be manageable.

However, Vandeweghe is not a player easily beaten especially after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, quarterfinals of the Wimbledon Championships and also two finals in Stanford just last week. Her powerful style of play is especially effective against defensive players like Radwanska, but she has to be very patient as the Pole would often return the balls back and force her to hit an extra stroke, which often ends up in an unforced error if she were to lose her composure. Her backhand slice could catch opponents off-guard, but the spin on her groundstrokes are brilliant to help her dictate play and control the proceedings. However, one major factor could be fatigue especially with this match played on Tuesday and Vandeweghe played two finals at Stanford on Sunday, coupled with the flight time and the lack of practice time on the Toronto courts.

Coco Vandeweghe reached the singles and doubles final in Stanford | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
Coco Vandeweghe reached the singles and doubles final in Stanford | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Final thoughts

This is the golden opportunity to judge whether Radwanska has found her best tennis once again, but it would be an especially daunting task for the Pole as Vandeweghe is a very tricky first round opponent to play against. Fatigue might pose a challenge for the American, but for a player like Vandeweghe, once she gets the rhythm and momentum everything would go well for her. Therefore, she has the slight edge in this match-up in spite of the head-to-head record which is in favor for the higher-ranked player.

Match Prediction: Coco Vandeweghe d. [10] Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets


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