Sports

Radwanska sends out ominous warning in Melbourne

Radwanska turns it on against tough opponent Bouchard

Red-hot Agnieszka Radwanska said yesterday her confidence is soaring after she halted the comeback of Canada's Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Australian Open third round.

Bouchard, rebuilding her career after a head injury at last year's US Open, showed glimpses of her old form but could not match the Pole's ferocity in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

Radwanska, who this month moved above Maria Sharapova to be fourth in the world, will now play Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the third round.

"I'm very happy with my game today because getting Genie in the second round was not an easy match," she said.

"She is playing much better and it was a great challenge. I'm very, very happy I could play my best tennis today.

"I'm confident about my game and I really feel good on court."

Despite the loss, it was an encouraging step on the road back for Bouchard, 21, as she works to pick up the pieces after suffering a head injury when slipping in the locker room at Flushing Meadow.

It forced her out of her fourth-round match at the US Open with concussion and she remained troubled for the rest of the season.

The setback was costly for a player who showed huge potential by making her first Grand Slam semi-final at Melbourne Park in 2014 and quickly became a Tour favourite with her fearless, take-no-prisoners game style.

She followed up that year by making the French Open semi-final and Wimbledon final, reaching a career-high world ranking of No. 5 in October 2014.

Bouchard made the last eight in Melbourne last year but then went into freefall, barely able to win a game before the US Open injury.

Now ranked 37th, she came out firing yesterday and, with the crowd firmly behind her, won her opening service game with a smash.

Radwanska also held thanks to some solid groundstrokes in a match that became a baseline battle.

It went with serve until the sixth game when Bouchard produced a delicate dropshot on her second break-point to go 4-2 in front.

But she threw away the advantage immediately with some loose shots and a double-fault, allowing Radwanska to break back.

A backhand long gave away another break and left Radwanska serving for the set, which she finally won despite Bouchard saving four set-points.

The accomplished Radwanska, who has been on a roll, winning the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore and the Shenzhen Open this month, turned the screw by breaking in the first game of the second set.

It turned out to be decisive with Bouchard searching unsuccessfully for a way back, with another break in the seventh game putting Radwanska on course for victory.

While Radwanska has long been among the elite women's players, she has yet to break through at the Majors, coming closest at Wimbledon in 2012 when she was runner-up to Serena Williams.

She is seeking to go one better than the semi-finals here, her best run in Melbourne which came in 2014.

- AFP.

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