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Agnieszka Radwanska outlasts Andrea Petkovic in Mercury Insurance Open semifinal match

Third-seeded player prevails, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4, despite a bothersome shoulder. Her opponent becomes ill during the match and has to make a dash for a bathroom before returning.

August 06, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Agnieszka Radwanska looks to slice a backhand return to Andrea Petkovic during their Mercury Insurance Open semifinal match on Saturday in Carlsbad.
Agnieszka Radwanska looks to slice a backhand return to Andrea Petkovic… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Pancho Segura, 90, once ranked No. 1 in the world and wise in the ways of tennis, considered the 2-hour 10-minute semifinal match he watched Saturday afternoon between Agnieszka Radwanska and Andrea Petkovic, which featured Radwanska compensating for a sore right shoulder and Petkovic running to a bathroom mid-game to throw up.

Segura smiled.

"There was some excellent tennis played today," Segura said from his seat at the La Costa Spa and Resort tennis court, under an umbrella. "There was some beautiful shot-making. And, oh my, the power."

It was the third-seeded Radwanska, from Poland, who triumphed in the cockeyed match, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4, to reach the final of the Mercury Insurance Open.

In Sunday's 2 p.m. final, Radwanska will play top-seeded Vera Zvonareva. The Russian, ranked third in the world, put aside a set-ending double fault in the first and outlasted fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, and advanced to her first final here.

For Radwanska, 22, this is her best result this season and is an unlikely one considering that the wrap on her sore right shoulder seems to be getting bigger every day.

Radwanska clearly ratcheted down the power Saturday, hitting first serves often in the low 90s and second serves in the 70s. She was careful about placement, though, and about paying attention to her soft touch with other strokes. Her all-around game, Segura said, reminded him of Martina Hingis, who could never overpower anyone with a serve but could run opponents ragged with her creativity.

"Sometimes you can really serve well and win the match because of the serve," Radwanska said. "I have the opposite thing now, so it's kind of hard. I can just really play with my forehand and backhand."

It was in the fourth game of the second set, when Radwanska had a 40-0 lead and second-seeded Petkovic was serving that the 23-year-old German sprinted off the court, climbing through the rows without breaking stride and heading into the locker room.

She had warned supervisor Melanie Tabb that there was a problem and so Petkovic was allowed an unplanned, mid-game timeout for an "acute medical condition," according to the rules.

After she returned, Petkovic quickly finished off the second set, winning only four more points.

Petkovic said she had felt like vomiting almost from the start of the match.

She ate a banana in an unsuccessful effort to calm her stomach, Petkovic said, but "my plan did not work out that well because at the point where I ran out, I couldn't hold it back any more. I didn't want to be on "SportsCenter" for the next 25 years. I'm not that big of a lady normally but this was too much. I didn't want to do this in front of the crowd."

Pete Sampras famously vomited on the court during a U.S. Open match, an episode that has been replayed often on television and is a YouTube favorite.

Petkovic said she felt much better when she returned to the court, though she lost the first four games of the third set before beginning to find her shot-making energy again.

After trailing, 4-0, in the final set, Petkovic won three consecutive games but could never quite earn another match-tying service break.

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