x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Agnieszka Radwanska holds her nerve to secure title

Underdog Goerges battles bravely in final but Pole's experience guides her to victory in Dubai Tennis Championships.

Agnieszka Radwanska picked up a winner’s cheque for Dh1.5 million yesterday.
Agnieszka Radwanska picked up a winner’s cheque for Dh1.5 million yesterday.

Dubai //A cool-headed Agnieszka Radwanska overcame Julia Goerges in straight sets to claim her first Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with a 7-5, 6-4 victory last night.

Radwanska's victory was played out before a busy centre-court crowd at the Aviation Club which included Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his wife, Princess Haya.

"It was a very tight match," said Radwanska, 22, who now moves up to No 5 in the world.

"There was really only a few points between us. Julia played great tennis and I had to play my best tennis to beat her."

The Dubai title, which carries a winner's purse of US$409,170 (Dh1.5 million), brought the fifth-seeded Radwanska to a total of eight career titles.

Goerges, the German who is ranked No 19 and has two career titles, was facing Radwanska for the first time since the Pole treated her to a 6-1, 6-1 pasting in the Australian Open last 16.

The unseeded Goerges, after overcoming Caroline Wozniacki 7-6, 7-5 in Friday's semi-final, had spoken in the post-match press conference of her new confidence.

Certainly, she seemed determined to fight for every point, showing flashes of defiance when Radwanska seemed certain to dash her hopes of a title challenge early on.

Hitting winners was not a problem for the 23-year-old Goerges, whose forehand was a potent weapon against Radwanska.

Reining in the unforced errors was a bigger challenge, however, and ultimately it seemed that nerves got the better of her.

Afterwards, Radwanska acknowledged that so powerful was Goerges's forehand that at times she did not even see the ball.

"Her forehand, it's a very big weapon," said the winner. "You never know what to expect. It's just going so fast and sometimes I couldn't even move the right way before the ball was already behind me."

Radwanska started the better in both sets and her nerves held firm while she fought off surges from Goerges midway through each set.

It is to the credit of Goerges, who was playing Dubai for the first time, that she was able to stage her second assault on the Pole's game in the final set, clawing back into the match at 4-1 down.

But her nerves told both in her tentative shot selection and body language.

Despite saving one match point, she could not stop the inevitable when she over-hit Radwanska's final serve to give the match and the title to the Pole on her sixth Dubai appearance.

Radwanska acknowledged an unflappable demeanour helped her on the road to victory.

"It was pretty close in the last game. It's hard to stay calm, especially when you know you have the advantage in the second set and you're serving for the match," said Radwanska, who won the tournament the hard way after not receiving a bye and weathering a tough, three-set opening match with the Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak.

"I was 41 up with the two breaks, but then she started to really play better. She was just fighting until the end. It's always difficult.

"I think I have had the experience and it's better to stay calm. Even if something is not going your way, it's better to fight until the end."

The tournament played out without the world No 1, Victoria Azarenka, and the No 3, Petra Kivitova. Yet their absence did not sour Radwanska's victory.

"Winning big tournaments is always great for the confidence. Even if those two girls pulled out, it's a lot of other great players playing," she said.

In the doubles final earlier, the US pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond defeated India's Sania Mirza and Russia's Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-1.

The men's tournament, featuring eight of the world's top 10, gets underway tomorrow.

Andy Murray seems set to be eased into the pointy end of the tournament, having been drawn in the top and arguably easier half of the draw.

His first-round opponent is one of three qualifiers situated in Murray's half. Also in the top half are Sergei Bubka, the son of the Ukrainian pole-vault star of the same name, and the UAE wild card, Omar Awadhy.

Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, faces Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, while at the other, tougher end of the draw, Roger Federer, the world No 3, meets Michael Llodra.

Djokovic's younger brother, Marko, 20, is also in the draw and the wild card must pass the fourth and final qualifier to set up a clash with either the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, the No 8 seed, or the No 79-ranked Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.