As the top seed at any tournament the pressure on you to do well is massive and Agnieszka Radwanska could not have asked for a more difficult start to the Madrid Open up against a tricky customer in Dominika Cibulkova.
The world number two does lead the head to head at 7-3 against the Slovakian however Cibulkova has won 3 of their last 6 meetings including the semi-final of the Australian Open back in 2014.
At a big tournament like this you always look at the cut-off point after the seeded players and Cibulkova would have been top of the list that seeded players don’t fancy taking on in round one.
The Slovakian makes you work so hard, she can be aggressive from the baseline and is a great defender. She has struggled a bit to improve her ranking since her return from injury with her just inside the top 40 at the moment and of course won Katowice not long ago but went out in round one against fellow Slovakian Krejcikova in Prague not long ago and will be hoping for a longer stay in Madrid this week.
Something that I noticed from their meeting in Indian Wells this year which was a great match was the lack of creativity from Cibulkova. The Slovakian did only lose the match by a few points but still it’s still a loss.
Time and time again we saw Cibulkova go strong with her forehand trying to break down the defence of Radwanska but it was only in the latter stages of the match where we saw a few drop shots thrown in which worked! You have to control the rally against Aga and try to move her off the baseline, if she’s the one approaching the net and you are 3 metres behind the baseline you are in trouble.
I was a little disappointed by Aga’s performance against Laura Siegemund in Stuttgart recently losing in straight sets against the German who didn’t face much challenge which I was surprised as with Siegemund already causing a few upsets that week I thought Aga would have gone toe to toe and mixed it up like Siegemund did bring in so many drop shots throughout the match and using the big serve out wide followed by the forehand to the other side.
I think an upset could be on the cards. The pressure is probably on both to do well but only one will advance to face either Johanna Konta or Caroline Garcia in round two and I just fancy Cibulkova to cause the early upset…