x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Agnieszka Radwanska upset with Victoria Azarenka's behaviour

Pole defeats Sabine Lisicki to reach semi-finals of Dubai Tennis Championships but follows win by suggesting the world No 1 was disingenuous about injury in Doha.

Agnieszka Radwanska returns the ball to Sabine Lisicki during their quarter-final in Dubai.
Agnieszka Radwanska returns the ball to Sabine Lisicki during their quarter-final in Dubai.

DUBAI // Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 6, launched a verbal attack on Victoria Azarenka, the world's leading female player, after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship on Thursday.

The 22-year-old Pole said she was "angry" and had lost respect for the Belarusian, alleging that Azarenka's behaviour in Doha last week had not been good for the image of the game.

Radwanska appeared to be referring to Azarenka's hobbling and wincing between rallies during parts of their semi-final match, while still moving well enough during the rallies to secure a solid straight sets win.

It follows Radwanska's criticisms of grunting in the women's game last month after losing to Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Radwanska's latest comments came when she was asked in a news conference here whether she had been annoyed at the end of last week's loss in Doha.

She said: "Well, to be honest, I don't think this is worth a comment. But I think after this match … just lost a lot of respect. That's it.

"If you do this in the match, if anyone didn't see the match, I think it's just a quick look on YouTube and you'll know what was going on."

The questioner responded by saying that he had not been seeking for Radwanska to criticise another player, but she continued anyway.

"Yeah, I was angry because I don't think this is the great image for the women's tennis, what was going on there," she said. "So, yeah, unfortunately."

YouTube clips show Radwanska offering a peremptory handshake to Azarenka with no eye contact at the end of the match, and include a television commentator saying that Azarenka's behaviour had affected her opponent's focus.

However Azarenka contention that her ankle had been painful was lent weight by her decision on Wednesday to withdraw from the Dubai tournament to allow more time for it to heal.

Radwanska advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over the ninth-seeded Sabine Lisicki.

She will now play Jelena Jankovic of Serbia who beat the US Open champion Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-2.

Caroline Wozniacki, the defending champion, also reached the semi-finals by defeating the other Serbian quarter-finalist, Ana Ivanovic, 6-3, 7-5.

Wozniacki, at No 3, is the highest-seeded player left in Dubai after Azarenka pulled out and she will play Julia Goerges who beat Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday.

The eighth-seeded Jankovic was in control throughout the match as the fourth-seeded Stosur struggled with her game.

The Australian seemed to rush her shots for much of the first set, hitting the ball early and returning it long and wide. Stosur broke Jankovic early in the second, but the Serb broke right back and then pulled ahead 5-2 before wrapping up the match in 1 hour, 30 minutes. "I'm happy with the win," Jankovic said. "It's never easy. Against her, we always have tough matches."

The 26 year old also beat Stosur in last year's quarter-finals in Dubai. "I think the key was my return," Jankovic said. "You know, she [Stosur] has one of the best, if not the best, serves in the women's game. It's never easy to return her serve.

"But usually she likes to serve and then start dictating the point with her forehand. I didn't really allow her to do that … I was pretty much in control the whole time," Jankovic said.

Stosur was disappointed she missed a chance to bounce back from last year's loss to Jankovic.

"I definitely didn't play as well today," Stosur said.

"I mean, she played all right. She served quite well. I felt like I was getting pushed back.

"I think today she stayed up on the baseline quite well and I didn't," Stosur said.

"But I think it was more that I don't think my forehand was as good as what it needed to be."