Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova were never the same after their Grand Slam final losses to Serena Williams. Agnieszka Radwanska wasn’t the same after her three-set defeat to Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon semis.
Aga knew she had blown the chance of a lifetime—a win meant that she would have played Marion Bartoli, a woman she had beaten in all seven of their meetings, for her first major title. Radwanska had her moments after that. She won a title in Seoul and reached a final in Beijing. But by the WTA Championships, where she lost all three of her matches in straight sets, she was out of gas.
The break, in other words, should be a useful one for Radwanska, who tends to play too many tournaments as it is. Like so many of her peers, she’s traditionally a fast starter. Last year, she won the two Aussie Open warm-up events and reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne. It’s hard to imagine Radwanska beating Vika or Serena in a big match, but she should be ready if another Wimbledon-like opportunity comes around.
Ad-In: While she had her disappointments in 2013, Radwanska has established herself as a Top 5 player, and there’s no reason to think she won’t be again. But there’s also little reason to think she’ll break the spell that Azarenka and Serena have on her, either. Her best hope for a major is to put herself in the mix, and hope for surprises. If Bartoli can win a Slam, Aga can.
Ad-Out: Radwanska has logged a lot of miles. She plays virtually every week, and her matches can be the tennis equivalent of marathons. That has to take a toll, either mentally or physically or both, at some point. Now that she has stopped moving up, will she be able to stay motivated to remain in the same spot in the pecking order?
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.