Australian Open

Ageless Lucic-Baroni sends Radwanska packing

2017-01-19 11:35
Agnieszka Radwanska (AFP)

Melbourne - Ageless Mirjana Lucic-Baroni turned back the clock to stun third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and send her packing from the Australian Open in round two on Thursday.

The Croat, 34, who won the Australian Open doubles title way back in 1998, was too good for the Pole, 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 number four 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.

"It's amazing, oh my God," said Lucic-Baroni.

"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 debut in 1998 but had been knocked out at the first hurdle on every appearance since then.

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

In a sign of how long Lucic-Baroni had been around, she won the Australian Open doubles title in 1998 with Martina Hingis and made the Wimbledon singles semis a year later, losing to the legendary Steffi Graf.

Awaiting her now is either French 28th seed Alize Cornet or Maria Sakkari of Greece, with a potential quarter-final showdown with on-fire fifth seed Karolina Pliskova looming.

Radwanska, a semi-finalist last year, was taken to three sets by fellow veteran Tsvetana Pironkova in her opening round match and never looked like a winner on Thursday.

"There wasn't much I could do. She was playing without pressure, with full power," said Radwanska.

"It's always disappointing (losing), especially in the first week of a Grand Slam," added the Pole. "But it just happens sometimes. I just need to come back next year and do better."

Both players struggled with their serve as the clash got underway, with a sluggish Radwanska immediately broken before she did the same to Lucic-Baroni, who was born in Germany and lives in the United States.

Lucic-Baroni then broke again on a Radwanska double fault. It was sloppy tennis from both of them as the Croat moved into a 3-1 lead but the level began to pick up as they found their range. 

Both players are aggressive baseliners and the rallies began to build but Radwanska couldn't find a way past Lucic-Baroni, who sent down a searing crosscourt forehand to break again and take the set in 31 minutes.

Radwanska began warming to her task and broke in the first game of the second set but she couldn't settle and was struggling to hit winners.

Lucic-Baroni got back on level-pegging soon after and was on a roll, sensing a major upset and never looked back.


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