Agnieszka Radwanska took another big step on her road to the top of world tennis, this time in Melbourne. The 18-year-old Krakow-based player reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, thus recording the best Grand Slam performance in her short professional career.
She drew media attention in the fourth round of the tournament with a sensational 6-3, 6-4 win over second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova. Then she won in three sets against Nadia Petrova to advance to the quarterfinals.
Both Russians joined a list of famous players who have already been defeated by Radwanska on various occasions: their compatriots Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova as well as Swiss Martina Hingis and American Venus Williams.
However, the young Polish player didn’t make it to the semis in Melbourne. In the quarterfinal, ninth-seed Slovak Daniela Hantuchova defeated her easily 6-2, 6-2. Even though Radwanska didn’t show her full potential in that match, she can be proud of her performance in Australian Open 2008.
The quarterfinal achievement in Melbourne advanced Radwanska from 29th to 21st position in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings and gave her prize money of 350,000 zloty.
She no longer is an unknown teenage player, and rivals in this year’s French Open at Roland Garros will surely pay much attention to both her strong and weak points.
She was also in the sports headlines in Poland for a couple of days, which should result in further sponsorship deals. Tennis in Poland itself also should benefit from Radwanska’s success. It’s not among the nation’s most widely followed sports like football, volleyball or basketball.
Last week’s tournament was also successful for another Polish tennis professional, 23- year-old Marta Domachowska. Although unseeded, she managed to reach the fourth round, where she was beaten 4-6, 4-6 by Venus Williams.
Two 17-year-old Polish players were relatively successful in their categories. Jerzy Janowicz reached the boys’ semifinals, while Katarzyna Piter advanced to the girls’ quarterfinals.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s younger sister Urszula, the 2007 Wimbledon junior champion, took part for the first time in a senior Grand Slam tournament. However, the 17-year-old didn’t make it to the first round at Melbourne, losing in the last round of qualifications.