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Thursday, July 5, 2012
Radwanska reaches first Grand Slam final

By Sandra Harwitt

The celebration in Poland has likely begun, as Krakow's own Agnieszka Radwanska became the first Polish player in 73 years to reach a Grand Slam final.

The third-seeded Radwanska, however, isn't uncorking the champagne yet. After her 6-3, 6-4 semifinal victory against eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany on Thursday, the Pole was her usual nonplussed self. It almost seemed as if she felt obligated to go out on the court to give a postmatch wave to the crowd.

There was no crouch, fist pump or scream like Serena Williams gave after her 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over the second-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the other semifinal.

Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska made a coaching change prior to the season and the move has paid off with three victories and her first Grand Slam final appearance.

Radwanska would earn the No. 1 ranking for the first time if she beats the sixth-seeded Williams. If not, that honor would go back to Azarenka when the rankings are released Monday.

Radwanska is not only attempting to insert herself into contemporary tennis history, she's hoping to challenge Polish tennis history.

It's likely most tennis fans haven't heard of the late Jadwiga ("Jed" or "Ja-Ja") Jedrzejowska, but she was a Polish tennis star and a three-time major finalist (1937 Wimbledon, '37 U.S. Championships, '39 French Championships).

Radwanska didn't know much about Jedrzejowska, as she died nine years before Radwanska, 23, was born.

"I know that she was the finalist here many years ago," Radwanska said. "I'm just very happy I can be the second one here in Wimbledon being in the final."

Beyond those stellar singles achievements, Jedrzejowska had longevity in the game: A French doubles champion in 1939, she reached the women's doubles quarterfinal in Paris at age 44 in 1957.

For now, Radwanska is focused on winning the Venus Rosewater Dish, which is presented to the ladies champion Saturday.

Radwanska won the junior girls' title over Tamira Paszek of Austria at Wimbledon in 2005. Only four girls who won the Wimbledon junior trophy went on to claim the women's title in later years: Karen Hantze Susman, 1960 and 1962; Ann Haydon-Jones, 1956 and 1969; Martina Hingis, 1994 and 1997; and Amelie Mauresmo, 1996 and 2006.

"I remember 2005, of course," Radwanska said. "[It feels] like one year and it was seven years ago. Of course, I will try everything in my power to hold the trophy again."

Radwanska made a coaching change this year that seems to be successful. She has won titles at Dubai, Miami and Brussels. She's no longer working exclusively with her father, Robert. He still coaches her at home, but on the road she's under the tutelage of Poland's Fed Cup captain, Tomasz Wiktorowski. Her mother, Marta, an accountant, was courtside during the semifinal.

Radwanska shows little to no emotion on the court. She just goes out there and gets down to business. She's consistent, patient and normally has the advantage the longer the points go.

"First of all, just very happy that it was my first semifinal," Radwanska said. "Of course, in the beginning, [I was] also a bit nervous. I think we both were.

"After a couple of games, I was really feeling good. I think I really did great job today."

It took Radwanska a few games to comfortable, which enabled Kerber to take a 3-1 lead.

That was Kerber's one statement in the 70-minute outing, and five games later Radwanska had taken the opening set 6-3. Radwanska closed out the first set at 40-30 in style with an ace -- one of three she had in the match.

"Actually, it was a great tournament for me," said Kerber, who also reached the semifinals at last year's U.S. Open. "I mean, I'm in the semis here in Wimbledon. I give today everything I can. So, it's OK. I mean, sure, I'm a little disappointed."