Since 2006 Agnieszka Radwanska has been trying to get somewhere in the U.S. Open. She's made the semifinals at the Australian and Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at the French. She's never made it past the fourth round at the U.S. Open.
And she isn't making it to the third round this year. She was beaten Wednesday by Peng Shuai, 6-3, 6-4, in a tough and tight match that again didn't turn out the right way for the world's fifth-ranked player at Flushing Meadows.
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Maria Sharapova had to tough out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Alexandra Dulgheru while other top seeds got through with more ease. Simona Halep beat Jana Cepelova, 6-2, 6-l; Angelique Kerber defeated Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-2, 6-4; Jelena Jankovic defeated Tsvetana Pironkova, 7-5, 6-4 and Caroline Wozniacki beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-3, 6-4. In the night match on Ashe, Venus Williams beat Timea Bacsinszky, 6-1, 6-4.
Peng was left celebrating her victory while Radwanska was left scratching her head about how she can't make headway on the hard courts at the Open, and can't beat Peng here, who scored her only victory over Radwanska at the Open in 2010.
"Really happy and really exciting," said the excitable Peng. "Before the match . . . [in] China, the web always say I play her four times and then I win only one time and that was U.S. Open four years ago. So maybe I saw from like four years ago the [luck] coming back."
For No. 4 seed Radwanska, there doesn't seem to be any luck here. When asked why her record at the Open doesn't seem to correspond to her overall high level of play, Radwanska responded: "That's really a good question. I want to know the answer for that . . . Then maybe I will find a way to play better here and just try another way to be in the second week. There is just something here that I can't really pass those rounds. Well, I have a couple of years to try. Hopefully one day I will do it."
With Li Na out of the tournament with injury, Peng becomes the top Chinese woman at the Open. The 28-year-old has a modest record here, reaching the fourth round in 2011. She had a fourth-round finish at Wimbledon this year. Peng said she would prefer to have Li in the tournament, to keep the focus off her.
"Not easy to handle that," she said.
About the only thing that Caroline Wozniacki found hard to handle Wednesday was her hair. Her long braid got stuck around her racket when she wound up to hit a backhand, and she couldn't get the racket through the ball, losing the point against Sasnovich.
"It used to happen when I didn't braid my hair, that's why I started braiding it," Wozniacki said. "It's a first when it's braided that it's been stuck that good in my racket. I still tried to hit the ball. Almost took my head off."