In praise of Agnieszka, the WTA’s precious orchid
TENNIS – Agnieszka Radwanska is the top player that has a different game than the rest. Her mental frailty and, of course, her lack of power are capable of getting in the way of Agnieszka's rise to the top, but she is nonetheless a rare flower that needs protection.
Serena William’s current showdown with the rest of the tennis-playing world is beginning to take on the sadistic dimension, almost bordering on banality. Serena has been playing the role of Wednesday Addams for quite a while now, regularly demolishing both Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, the only two players capable of matching her when it comes to physical and mental strength. From Grand Slam winners to sacrificial lambs, this 2012 has born witness to their failure to finally dethrone Serena, who treats them much like a secondary school bully would, a wannabe thug still stuck on basic grammar and arithmetic.
It would be boring-both for you and myself- to praise the 31-year-old’s uncontested domination, who is an embarrassing country mile ahead of everyone else in this category.
We prefer, rather, to dig up old Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin’s long-term arch-nemesis, and the documentary linked to one of his last films, The Railrodder (1965). In it, the comedian exploits a trompe l’oeil to give the impression that he was able to both stop a moving train with only one arm, before sending it on its way once again. An absolutely improvised, yet marvellous means of inserting his physical presence into space and time.
There is no better way of summarizing Agnieszka Radwanska's tennis, who, after years of lengthy, bloated debate regarding her skills, has been able to reach a first Major final where- guess who- Serena was on cue to spoil the party.
In the same week where the faithful have been announcing the return of San Grigor the Saviour (who is undoubtedly skilful, but also overrated, whilst his trick shot in Basel owed rather a lot to fortune, as well as technique) our Aga has been regaling people with her silky skills and anticipation, though there has also been the usual dose of bemused fans who still have no idea where those lapses in concentration and tactical awareness come from.
Against Sara Errani, Agnieszka showed us all her fantastic technique, as well as the limitations which always have- and always may- stop her from lifting tennis’ most illustrious trophies. Her tennis is made of deft slices, clever cuts and by an incredible understanding of how to exploit the space available on the court. Nobody can quite slice as well as she does, nor do they possess her technical repertoire, or indeed her ability when it comes to anticipate her opponent’s attacks, which frequently allows her to exploit its power.
Only two things, as previously mentioned, are capable of getting in the way of Agnieszka's rise to the top: her mental frailty and, of course, her lack of power. It is even rumoured that some of her fans even tend to blow a little to speed up her serve.
We also saw her struggle mentally against Sharapova, where she was on top form for two sets before failing to exploit her advantage, eventually allowing Masha back into the match. But that’s who Aga is: a snowflake, a precious orchid, a whisper amidst a Hacienda Rave. She is a luxury we are happy to have. If Serena is the school bully, Agnieszka is the four-eyed nerd who enjoys Virginia Woolf and French poetry, the flower inserted into the rifle’s barrel.
Perhaps her “Make Love, not War” approach won’t win her anything, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t essential. Let’s just hope she can defy our prediction as well and win the glory she deserves.