It was the elder Radwanska sister besting the elder Williams sister at the 2014 Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada. Agnieszka Radwanska (big sister of tour pro Urszula Radwanska) captured her first singles title of the year (and 14th of her career) over Venus Williams (big sister of Serena Williams), 6-4 6-2. Venus survived four 3-set matches en route to the final, including upsetting Serena in the semifinals, but could not overcome the contrasting crafty style of the #3 seed Radwanska. Aga won’t normally beat you by blasting winner after winner, but she also won’t beat herself, keeping her errors to a bare minimum. She only hit 12 winners, but she also only made 8 unforced errors. Furthermore, she frustrates opponents into going for too much too soon. You must pick your spots with Aga. Venus hit a lot of winners (25) but couldn’t avoid the errors (41).
So as I’m watching the commentators very briefly brought up the best to never win a Major topic. They mentioned Aga and Caroline Wozniacki. I agree it’s between those two. The question is are we to judge by who has had the better career or who is playing best at the moment. Here’s how I see a few of the possible contenders. This is singles only.
Pro: 14 singles titles. She reached the 2012 Wimbledon final, pushing Serena Williams to 3 sets. Consistently ranked in or around the top 5 for several years. Has reached at least the quarterfinals in Majors 10 times, at least the semis 3 times and 1 final.
Con: Plays a style that needs to almost be perfect to run 7 straight matches in a Major. Always seems she has that one clunky match where her lack of power won’t let her escape playing her B-game.
Pro: Was ranked #1 for 67 weeks. 22 singles titles. Reached the 2009 US Open final, losing to Kim Clijsters in straight sets. If we are to judge by the entire career of current players, then Caroline is the easy choice.
Con: Isn’t even in the top 10 at the moment. So if we are judging who is the best right now, it’s not her. Also, she has power that she doesn’t use in her style. She’s bigger and stronger than she plays. But she doesn’t seem to be as receptive to outside coaching that could help her raise her game to Major winning levels. Has not reached the quarterfinal of a Major since the 2012 Australian Open.
Pro: Nobody not named Serena Williams has won more singles titles (8) over the last 15 months than Simona Halep. When the rankings come out after Rogers Cup, Simona will be ranked a career high #2, again behind only Serena. In 2014’s first three Majors she reached the quarters at the Australian Open, the final at Roland Garros and the semis at Wimbledon.
Con: Lack of longevity. If she keeps up this level of performance without winning a Major, then she’ll be the clear choice. But not yet. We still don’t know if she can keep up this torrid pace of capturing titles.
I can’t in good conscience rank Eugenie Bouchard (1 career title) or Angelique Kerber (3 career titles) yet, despite Genie actually being slightly better than Halep in Majors this year. I think you have to either have been in several Majors or have 6 or more victories to get in the discussion right now. A better case could be made for the resurgent former #1, Jelena Jankovic. She has 14 titles, was ranked #1 briefly and reached the 2008 US Open final, losing to Serena in straight sets. It’s just been so lean for her in Majors in recent years culminating in a first round exit from Wimbledon this year.
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3 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (won 6-4 6-2 vs Venus Williams)