Here it is:
By Chris Oddo / Monday, November 18, 2013
Unfortunately Agnieszka Radwanska's 2013 campaign will be remembered more for the one that got away.
Now that the 2013 tennis season is officially in the books, we'll be looking back at the seasons of some of the game's most compelling players. Check back each day as we choose a new player to review.
Titles: Auckland, Sydney, Seoul
Highlights: Reached quarterfinals or better in three of four Slams, won three titles in four finals, hit the most fantastic shot of 2013 in Miami (hands-down: see video below).
Lowlights: heartbreaking loss to Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon, failed to reach U.S. Open quarterfinals (has never been past fourth round), lost 11 of 16 against the top 10 and all five against WTA No. 1s.
Unfortunately, Agnieszka Radwanska's 2013 campaign, as solid and as entertaining as it was, will probably be remembered more for what it might have been than what it actually was.
Radwanska was an impressive 56-19 for the season, including 3-1 in finals, but as the highest-seeded player remaining in a Wimbledon draw that had been blown wide open by the upsets of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova and the injury default of Victoria Azarenka, Radwanska wasn't able to capitalize on what was considered by many the best chance she will ever have to capture a Grand Slam title.
She couldn't quell the ephemeral magic of Sabine Lisicki despite holding a 3-0 lead and all the momentum in the third set of their epic semifinal, and instead of a crowning achievement at the All England Club in 2013, Radwanska was dealt a humbling blow.
She would lose in heartbreaking fashion, and afterwards Radwanska was so dejected that she could barely shake hands with Lisicki at the net. Though many perceived it to indicate poor sportsmanship, Radwanska's chilly reaction to Lisicki's effusive joy was further proof that Radwanska was well aware of what had lay before her at Wimbledon. She had stumbled upon a golden chance to win the most prestigious tennis title in all the land, and just like that—in a flurry of miraculously clutch serves and winners by Lisicki—it had vanished into the Wimbledon topsoil. At the time, as disappointed as she was, who could blame her for not wanting to be a part of Lisicki's celebration?
“Should I just be there and dance?” Radwanska quipped afterwards, when asked in press about the incident. “What could I do?”
But fear not, fans of unbridled creativity and old-school tennis quirk: Radwanska, who will turn 25 next March, may have more opportunities to win Grand Slam titles.Why shouldn't she, after all? An incredibly poised and fleet-footed pugilist who possesses remarkable touch and feel, the 24-year-old gives herself chances to win every tournament she enters with her underrated quickness, world-class defensive skills and sky-high tennis IQ. Though she is not known for her offensive prowess, one could certainly argue that she is the craftiest and most opportunistic player in the women's game at the moment.
But if she is going to improve on her past results, Radwanska will need to find ways to notch more victories against her elite peers. The World No. 5's 5-11 record against the top ten this season shows that the Krakow native is losing with regularity to the best players in the game. Most people think that Radwanska would benefit from adding pop to her serve, but statistics show that she was 8th on the WTA Tour in terms of service games won. She may not serve big, but she serves smart.
In reality, Radwanska might be able to improve her return game more than her serve game. She was not ranked among the WTA's top 10 in return games won—with quick hands, precise groundies and fast feet like hers, she could definitely do better.
But we'd be remiss if we didn't celebrate what Radwanska is rather than what she could be when looking at her season in review. Once again, she was one of the most entertaining players to watch (both on and off the court—see her appearance in ESPN's The Body Issue) because of her craftiness and tremendous feel for the ball. In an era of tennis where power is the most sought after commodity, that Radwanska can remain a fixture in the top five and consistently go deep in Grand Slams is a credit to her guile, athleticism and creativity.
There is true genius in Radwanska's game, and though she missed out on a golden opportunity to parlay that genius into a Wimbledon title in 2013, time is still on the side of Poland's No. 1 player.