Agnieszka Radwanska’s Connecticut Open title defense is off on the right foot with the Pole holding off a late-surging Eugenie Bouchard on Tuesday night to move through to the quarter-finals.
The top seed advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over the former world No.7, but it was not without a struggle.
While both players have endured one of their tougher years on tour, Radwanska was not taking the free-swinging 23-year-old lightly.
“I expected this kind of match,” she said. “I think she seems better now than a few months ago, playing more consistent.
“I’m feeling much better than in the beginning of the year. I’m not struggling with my health anymore so I feel strong.
I feel better and more confident on court as well so that is helping.”
Bouchard was coming off a straight-sets dismissal of American Lauren Davis in the first round while this was Radwanska’s first New Haven outing of 2017.
It was the Canadian, however, showing greater signs of rust early on as she surrendered an error-ridden first set in 40 minutes.
The world No.74 showed momentary fight when she saved a match point on serve at 3-5 in the second set and another two when Radwanska served for the match at 4-5.
But the Pole steadied to hold for 6-5 when she flattened out a backhand winner down the line.
She brought up match point No.4 a game later when Bouchard fired long and closed it out with a short forehand put-away.
“Against good players there’s always troubles. I’m just very happy I could finish that second set,” Radwanska said.
“I had break points all the way. I really had to push myself 100 per cent tonight.
“It’s been very hard conditions. It’s pretty humid and it’s really heavy to breathe but so far I’m doing good so hopefully I can keep going that way.”
Radwanska will meet eighth seed Peng Shuai for a place in the semi-finals. The Chinese player dismissed Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Lucic-Baroni, an Australian Open semi-finalist this year, was the aggressor with 20 winners to her opponent’s nine but 46 unforced errors to Peng’s 12 brought her undone.
Peng recovered from a nasty backwards tumble behind the baseline late in the second set to close out the match in one hour and 18 minutes.
“I hope the court is OK,” she joked, in reference to the fall. “Even though I was falling down I still loved it.”
Peng and Radwanska have split their six meetings but Peng claimed their only match so far in 2017 on hard courts in Indian Wells.
“Well she’s really talented and a really good player on tour,” Peng said. “I think I have to fight for the next round and hope for some good tennis.”