Agnieszka Radwanska and Belinda Bencic square up for their first encounter with the stakes high as the winner takes the top prize of the 2015 Aegon International title.
Rejuvenated Radwanska’s impressive grass court form has lifted her spirits going into Wimbledon following a dreadful opening half of the season that culminated with the Pole dropping out of the world’s top 10 after a disastrous coaching partnership with the legendary Martina Navratilova.
And crafty Radwanska has cut through the draw like a hot knife through butter, aiming to repeat her 2008 run at Eastbourne that was crowned by a victory over Russian Nadia Petrova in a memorable final.
But Bencic should prove her stiffest test yet, with the 18-year-old Swiss star on course to be a permanent top 10 player and appearing extremely comfortable on grass.
2013 Junior Wimbledon winner Bencic is absolutely fearless, which has been instilled by Martina Hingis’ mother who is one of her coaches, as proved with results that saw her propelled almost 200 places in a season to end 2014 as the world #33.
And the teenager has only just kicked off her career, although finding her feet on grass with her second final over three weeks after finishing runner-up to Italian Camila Giorgi at the Topshelf Open in the Netherlands.
Bencic followed up that run with a shock reversal to German Lisicki in Birmingham’s Aegon Classic 2nd Round but bounced with aplomb to register four wins and take her win-loss record on grass to 10-2.
However, both Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki were trailing 3-0 on Eastbourne’s Centre Court when they each withdraw from their respective contests against the Swiss ace.
Bencic explained:”It’s a very good tournament for me now that I’m in the final. I played a lot of good matches so I’m very happy about it.
“I adapt my game to grass by keeping a low centre of gravity and shortening my backswing a bit.
“But Radwanska has a totally different style of play, so it will be a real challenge, but I’m super excited because I’ve always watched her on TV and know that she has a very smart game.”
Radwanska outsmarted American Sloane Stephens in a three-set thriller of a semi-final, her first real tricky test having disposed of Irina Falconi, Karolina Pliskova and Tsvetana Pironkova.
Road to the Final
1st Round: Mona Barthel (GER, world #47) 6-4 7-6(7) in 95 minutes
2nd Round: Madison Keys (USA, world #21 & #12 seed) 6-2 6-2 in 53 minutes
3rd Round: Eugenie Bouchard (CAN, world #12 & #7 seed) 6-4 3-0 ret. in 55 minutes
Quarter-final: Johanna Konta (GB, world #146) 2-6 6-0 6-3 in 121 minutes
Semi-final: Caroline Wozniacki (DEN, world #5) 3-0 ret. in 15 minutes
Time on Court: 339 minutes
Games won: 51
Games lost: 27
Agniezska Radwanska (#9 seed)
1st Round: Bye
2nd Round: Irina Falconi (USA, world #73) 6-0 6-2 in 58 minutes
3rd Round: Karolina Pliskova (CZE, world #11) 6-2 6-1 in 57 minutes
Quarter-final: Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL, world #44) 6-2 6-2 in 67 minutes
Semi-final: Sloane Stephens (USA, world #43) 6-1 6-7(3) 6-2 in 120 minutes
Time on Court: 302 minutes
Games won: 54
Games lost: 19