Poland‘s Agnieszka Radwanska has been a force on the WTA Tour for years. Major career highlights prior to 2015 included making the Wimbledon 2012 final and making the semifinals of the 2014 Australian Open. In 2015, Radwanska had a very rocky season – one where she seemed to be riding a roller coaster from start to finish.
Her roller coaster ride of a season started in a deep valley: the start to her 2015 season was not impressive by her own standards. In Sydney and Melbourne Park, for examples, she failed to make deep runs. Those weak results were followed poor performances in Fed Cup matches, events that saw her lose to both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova.
However, perhaps Radwanska’s bad form to start the season remained a bit below the radar due to the calibre of the competition she had faced. After all, Kuznetsova and Sharapova combine for seven Grand Slam singles titles. But further losses would come for Radwanska in numerous events, including dropped matches to peripheral players like Heather Watson, Annika Beck, and Monica Niculescu.
Then, the former Wimbledon finalist’s roller coaster of a season started to peak for the first time on the grass court surface. With a run to the final of the Eastbourne event, Radwanska hinted that she was getting back to her best tennis. She followed that performance up with five match wins at the All England Club, finishing that tournament as a semifinalist.
However, just when she started to look as dangerous as ever, Radwanska’s roller coaster hit a free fall. The North American summer hard-court events did not yield a single victory over a Top 20 player. Even in the smaller events, like Stanford and New Haven, Radwanska failed to produce a strong result. It all culminated at the 2015 US Open where Madison Keys knocked out the former World No. 2 in an uncompetitive straight-sets match.
Looking as though her brilliant play on grass was just a flash in the pan, out of the blue, Radwanska’s roller coaster of a season re-peaked. She won a title in Beijing by defeating three Top 20 players, including teenage sensation Belinda Bencic. A semifinal loss in Beijing seemed only a minor setback a little while later before Poland’s top player claimed another title in a different event in China.
A short time later, her entire roller coaster season culminated in the most prestigious title of her career at the 2015 WTA Finals in Singapore. With wins over Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, and Petra Kvitova, Radwanska may have sounded alarm bells off that she will be a force for Grand Slam titles during the 2016 season – a point that others have noted.
According to a WTA article entitled “Grand Slam on the Horizon for Radwanska?” the victory in Singapore could have significant implications:
“Radwanska is the 19th woman to win the WTA Finals, and 17 of the first 18 all finished their careers with at least one Grand Slam title. The only exception? The 1982 WTA Finals winner, Sylvia Hanika. And anyone who didn’t have a major when they won the WTA Finals had one within three years.”
Radwanska’s best Grand Slam events have been the Aussie and Wimbledon. With the 2016 Australian Open just around the corner, her hot play of late certainly makes her a player to watch.
But then with the way she dipped and peaked in 2015, she’s also a player that could suffer an early-round loss, even in big events. Clearly, Radwanska’s challenge is to maintain her form from start to finish during 2016. If she is able to do that, then another appearance in a Grand Slam final would not be surprising. Nor would it be surprising to see her win more than three titles in 2016, the number she won during the 2015 season.
All in all, she is one of the few players that is at least capable of achieving the World No. 1 ranking.