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Radwanska moves up a late night notch

Cécile Verin
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 at 00:48
In the last match of kid's day, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland was put to a test called Alisa Kleybanova. The fourth seed of the 17th Open GDF SUEZ eventually prevailed 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 in a match that ended at 00h45.  
After the easy cruise of her first round match, Agnieszka Radwanska, ranked 10th in the world, was expected to advance to the next round without too much difficulty as her opponenent of the day, Alisa Kleybanova of Russia, was ranked 34th despite being the same age, 19. Yet the match, the first ever between the two teenagers, turned out to be much closer than the statistics foreshadowed in the first set. Even though she served five aces in the set, the Pole had to overcome not only a relative frailty in that department but also a very solid player in total control of her game and fitter than she had been in the past few years. Even a spectacular save by Radwanska at the net did not bring any doubt in Kleybanova's mind as she moved ahead and obtained four break points that would have allowed her to serve for the set. But that is when the rankings difference started to show, with Radwanska saving them all but proving unable to avoid a tie-break decision. With calculated risks and a bolder game that even her Polish opponent couldn't counter, Alisa Kleybanova won set 7-6 (5) after 1h12.
The Russian player kept on pounding her opponent, making her rally across the court and moving ahead 3-0 in the process without meeting the type of resistance one could expect from an irked top 10 player. Until a series of disputed points forced the highest-ranked of the two teenagers to rebel and fight even harder by stretching farther and almost squatting on some returns, which led Radwanska not only to catch up at 3-3 but to grab a 5-4 lead, soon turned into a won set (6-4). As often in such situations, the player going full speed increased her lead even more, 2-0 then 4-2, but not without having to face tough defense by Kleybanova, obviously unimpressed by what was at stake. The clash was so impressive and the players so engaged in it that none very few spectators interested enough to stay in the Coubertin stadium stands way after midnight wanted to miss the end of it. Even when Radwanska served for the set at 5-2, no one could tell for sure that the match was coming to an end since Kleybanova didn't show any sign of resignation. But that was not enough and the Pole eventually won the 2h29 late night battle and avanced to the quarter finals.

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