Losing in a first Wimbledon final proved a stepping stone to Olympic success for Andy Murray, but life has not been as easy for the other beaten singles finalist at the All England Club. While Murray went on to enjoy golden glory at the same venue four weeks later, Agnieszka Radwanska lost in the first round at London 2012 and has failed to go beyond the quarter-finals in her three subsequent tournaments.
The 23-year-old Pole will be hoping to do better here at the US Open, although she does not have the best of records at Flushing Meadows. She has never gone beyond the last 16 and has lost in the second round on her last three visits. In her opening match yesterday, nevertheless, the world No 2 needed just 54 minutes to beat Russia's Nina Bratchikova 6-1, 6-1, which was a relief given that she had retired with an injury to her right shoulder midway through her first match at New Haven last week. "It's really better," Radwanska said when asked about the injury. "It's always different when I'm playing matches or I'm just practising and not pushing that much. Of course I had some rest before. I'm really taking care of it right now."
Given her shoulder and the muggy conditions, the world No 2 was happy to take care of business as quickly as she did. "The conditions this year are very tough," she said. "The last few days have been very humid. Yesterday it was raining and today it was humid again and windy. It wasn't that easy, but I'm used to it. Especially on Centre Court we always struggle with the wind [but] I was prepared for that."
The summer has been a testing time for Radwanska, who will meet Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round. The Pole was suffering with a virus when she was beaten by Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final, lost to Julia Goerges in her only singles match at the Olympics and was beaten by Li Na in the quarter-finals of successive tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati.
How did she feel coming here as the No 2 seed? "Well, it's always a bit harder because the people expect you to play well and go far in the tournament," Radwanska said. "I'm just trying not to really think about pressure and just do my best. I don't really have many points to defend from last year. At least this is the good thing."
Ana Ivanovic, who has had a challenging summer, also made a winning start, beating the Ukrainian qualifier, Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-2. After winning only one game while losing to Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Ivanovic was beaten by Kim Clijsters in the third round at the Olympics and suffered a 6-0, 6-0 defeat at the hands of Roberta Vinci in her first match in Montreal. Two seeds were early victims yesterday. Klara Zakopalova was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by her fellow Czech, Andrea Hlavackova, while China's Peng Shuai lost 7-6, 6-1 to Russia's Elena Vesnina.