SPORT Pen­netta downs Rad­wan­ska at WTA Fi­nals

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

US Open cham­pion Flavia Pen­netta kept alive her WTA Fi­nals bid with a flurry of back­hand win­ners as she downed a strapped up and fa­tigued Ag­nieszka Rad­wan­ska.

The Ital­ian, who said she will re­tire af­ter the tour­na­ment, struck her 11th back­hand win­ner crisply down the line on her fourth match point to seal an im­pres­sive 7-6(5), 6-4 vic­tory over the Pole at the Sin­ga­pore In­door Sta­dium.

It was Panetta’s first win in the Red Group af­ter she was blown away by top seed Si­mona Halep of Ro­ma­nia 6-0 6-3 in her opener on Sun­day. The Ital­ian said a pep talk from her coach had proved the dif­fer­ence.

“(He) just came in the court and told me to be more ag­gres­sive, to be more with my back­hand more than my fore­hand,” the 33-year-old Ital­ian told re­porters.

“He just told me... ‘keep go­ing and try to go for the shot’.”

Halep faces Maria Shara­pova later on Tues­day where a vic­tory for the Ro­ma­nian would elim­i­nate Rad­wan­ska, who was beaten by the Rus­sian in her opener and looked weary af­ter a hec­tic re­cent sched­ule in a bid to qual­ify for the eight­woman fi­nals.

“The con­cen­tra­tion was re­ally slip­ping away some­times and I wasn’t fo­cused enough,” Rad­wan­ska said.

The Pol­ish world num­ber six had started brightly, twice hold­ing a break in the first set but was bro­ken when try­ing to serve it out at 5-4 and Panetta’s dom­i­nant back­hand took con­trol as the Ital­ian pre­vailed in the tie-breaker.

Pen­netta had a wor­ry­ing mo­ment in the tie-breaker when she ap­peared to hurt her an­kle and needed a med­i­cal time out in the third game of the sec­ond set be­cause of blis­ters but the is­sues failed to halt her am­bi­tion.

She crushed 37 win­ners against an in­creas­ingly de­flated Rad­wan­ska, who played with a heav­ily tapped shoul­der, and se­cured the sole break in the sev­enth game with a pow­er­ful back­hand re­turn be­fore con­fi­dently rid­ing out win­ner.

Flavia Pen­netta

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