Tennis: 34-year-old gets vintage win over Radwanska

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia in action against world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska at Margaret Court Arena. She won in straight sets to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since making her Australian Open debut in 1998.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia in action against world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska at Margaret Court Arena. She won in straight sets to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since making her Australian Open debut in 1998.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MELBOURNE • Ageless Mirjana Lucic-Baroni turned back the clock to stun third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and send her packing from the Australian Open in the second round yesterday.

The Croat, 34, who won the Australian Open doubles title way back in 1998, was too good for Radwanska, winning 6-3, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena for one of her biggest career victories.

Radwanska's shock exit was the second by a top-five seed in the opening rounds, with world No. 4 Simona Halep beaten in the first round.

It also came barely an hour after men's second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic went out to 117th-ranked Denis Istomin.

"There wasn't much I could do. She was playing without pressure, but with full power," said Radwanska. "It's always disappointing (losing), especially in the first week of a Grand Slam."

Both players are aggressive baseliners and the rallies began to build but Radwanska could not find a way past Lucic-Baroni, who took the first set in 31 minutes.

  • SELECTED DAY 4 RESULTS

  • Men's 2nd rd
    Rafa Nadal (Esp) bt Marcos Baghdatis (Cyp) 6-3 6-1 6-3, Dominic Thiem (Aut) bt Jordan Thompson (Aus) 6-2 6-1 6-7(6-8) 6-4, Alexander Zverev (Ger) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-2 6-3 6-4, Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr) 6-3 6-4 1-6 6-0, David Goffin (Bel) bt Radek Stepanek (Cze) 6-4 6-0 6-3, Milos Raonic (Can) bt Gilles Muller (Lux) 6-3 6-4 7-6(7-4), David Ferrer (Esp) bt Ernesto Escobedo (USA) 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2, Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) bt Chung Hyeon (Kor) 1-6 6-4 6-4 6-4, Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Carlos Berlocq (Arg) 6-1 6-1 6-1.

    Women's 2nd rd
    Serena Williams (USA) bt Lucie Safarova (Cze) 6-3 6-4, Timea Bacsinszky (Sui) bt Danka Kovinic (Mne) 6-1 7-6(7-5), Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt Hsieh Su-wei (Tpe) 6-4 7-6(10-8), Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt Donna Vekic (Cro) 6-1 6-3, Caroline Garcia (Fra) bt Oceane Dodin (Fra) 6-7(3-7) 6-4 6-4, Johanna Konta (Gbr) bt Naomi Osaka (Jpn) 6-4 6-2, Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Anna Blinkova (Rus) 6-0 6-2.
    REUTERS

The Pole broke in the first game of the second set but could not settle and was struggling to hit winners. Lucic-Baroni got back on level terms soon after and was on a roll, sensing a major upset and never looked back.

"It's amazing, oh my God," she said. "It's been so long since I won a match or two (at a Grand Slam). Actually as I'm getting older, it seems like I'm getting better.

"I knew until the very last point I would have to fight... I was able to do that and stay calm. My heart is so full. I'm so happy."

It was an incredible feat for a woman who made the second round at Melbourne Park on her debut in 1998 but had been knocked out at the first hurdle on every main draw appearance since then.

It made her a proud owner of an Australian Open record with the 19-year gap between victories the longest in tournament history.

Awaiting her now is Maria Sakkari of Greece.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline '34-year-old gets vintage win over Radwanska'. Print Edition | Subscribe