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Radwanska storms past Lyubtsova

Cécile Verin
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 14:25
Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, the fourth seed of the 17th Open GDF SUEZ, prevailed 6-1, 6-1 over Ukrainian qualifier Oxana Lyubtsova, ranked 198th in the world) in a 48-minute first round match that featured little suspense but many impressive shots and rallies.  

This was obviously the first round match of the extremes with, on one side of the court, one of the up-and-coming young wonders of the WTA, 19 years old Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, ranked 10th in the world and seeded 4th in the 17th Open GDF SUEZ, and on the other side, Oxana Lyubtsova, an Ukrainian player four years older but ranked 198th and who had had to go through three qualifying matches before reaching the tournament's main draw. It did not come as a surprise, then, if it took the Ukrainian more than 18 minutes to win her first game, already falling behind 1-4 before losing the first set 1-6 in a little less than half an hour. Despite a strapped thigh, Radwanska 's solid groundstrokes were too fast and powerful for Lyubtsova, who could rarely rally long enough to make her opponent lose a patience and a precision her entire game relied on.

Help from the trainer to take care of an apparently minor problem with Lyubtsova's leg did not stop Radwanska to implement the exact same strategy in the second set, in which she did not really have to put all her best skills to use. The match soon became a near-calvary for the Ukrainian, who managed to win only 19% of the points on her first serve and who could only be a witness of Radwanska's domination and calm. The youngest player even added a new weapon to her arsenal in the second set by relying on her very efficient return shots on both sides. The Coubertin crowd, always twilling to cheer for te underdog, was behind Lyubtsova and sometimes made the Ukrainian's situation even harder by loudly cheering the points she won, highlighting how few of those there were in the process. Led 0-5, Lyubtsova bought herself a short respite and a couple minutes more on court by winning her second game of the match but Radwanska, who didn't make any unforced errors compared to her opponent's 8, closed the match after 48 minutes of tennis demo that will hopefully leave her fresh for her next round.


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