Aga into Sydney quarters


Agnieszka's great results at the Sydney International continued on Wednesday, as Aga defeated American qualifier Catherine Bellis 7-6(4), 6-0 in the second round.


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In a first set which featured many long, all-court points, neither player faced a break point in the first five games. That changed on the American’s service down 3-2, when Bellis saved three break points and held four points to hold during a lengthy game, before a backhand error on the fourth break opportunity gave Radwanska a 4-2 lead.  But that advantage was quickly squandered in the next game, when misses off the forehand side by the Pole gave Bellis two break points, the first of which she dutifully converted with a screaming forehand passing shot. Those were the only breaks in the closely contested first set, as the combatants inexorably advanced to the tiebreak from that point.


In the breaker, Bellis chased down a lovely Radwanska dropshot and responded with a superb passing shot to knot the tiebreak at 3-3, but after the change of ends, Radwanska took advantage of an error-prone Bellis to reel off four of the last five points and claim a hard-fought opening frame in a grueling 66 minutes.


Bellis, the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year, struggled through another protracted service game at the start of the second set. The American double faulted twice to give Radwanska three early break points, and although her terrific scrambling was able to fend those off and bring her to game point, more unforced errors handed the Pole two more chances to claim the first game. A return winner on Radwanska's fifth opportunity clinched her the early lead. From there, the American's unforced errors mounted, and the play which brought her a Top 20 win over Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round dissipated. Bellis hit 18 unforced errors in the second set to Radwanska's six, and quickly dropped her next two service games to give last year's runner-up a 5-0 lead.


Radwanska never faced a break point in the second set, and after Bellis hit a forehand error into the net on the Pole's second match point, Radwanska obtained the second set whitewash in 30 minutes to clinch victory.


The Polish fan favorite moves into the quarterfinals, where she could take on 2015 Sydney International champion Petra Kvitova in a battle of the only two remaining former titlists in the field. Kvitova first has to get past Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi later on Wednesday before that encounter is firmed up.

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