Dubai: World No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska blamed blustery conditions for her shock 6-4, 6-1 second-round defeat to Flavia Pennetta at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at Dubai Tennis Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite taking a 4-1 lead, the 24-year-old second seed from Poland still lost the first set to the 31-year-old Italian qualifier.
Radwanska then managed just one win in game four of the second set for a surprise straight-sets defeat to Pennetta, who is ranked 19 places below her in the world rankings.
“I think I started well,” said Radwanska, who reached the semi-finals in Qatar last week and won here in 2012. “But the conditions here are worse for me than in Doha. The ball was really flying. I didn’t feel the ball today at all.
“Of course, 4-1 is 4-1 but on the break, she was using the conditions better than I did. The conditions for me are tough and when I don’t feel the ball, it’s not good.”
The 2012 Wimbledon finalist has now fallen to her second, second-round defeat after Sydney so far this season, either side of two quarter-final finishes at the Australian Open and in Qatar. And despite having won here in 2012, she claimed she still wasn’t used to the weather in Dubai at this time of year.
“I think every year is a little bit different; it’s similar but I still can’t really control the ball here that much like I normally do,” she said. “I think it’s just the wind and the air. It’s a little bit different than any other tournament.”
Radwanska — who had a first-round bye — added that Pennetta had the advantage having been able to acclimatise after passing three stages of qualifying even before her 7-5, 6-4 first-round win over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi on Tuesday.
“It helped her a little bit for sure,” she said. “I mean the first match is always the most difficult in a tournament, especially here when you play someone from the top 20 or 30 in the world from the first match. I think every match helps. I also prefer to play something before I play my first match.”
Pennetta, who reached the semi-final of the US Open last year, now faces the World No 44 Venus Williams in the quarter-final after the veteran American overcame Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-1 in Wednesday’s second round. This was Williams’ second scalp having beaten Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-2 in the first round on Monday.
To get this far, Pennetta had to win three stages of qualification last weekend against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 7-6(3), 6-0 and Germany’s Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3.
Pennetta is currently the only one of four qualifiers still in the competition. Germany’s Annika Beck fell to a 6-4, 6-4 second-round defeat to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, while the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova and the Ukraine’s Maryna Zanevska both fell to respective first-round defeats to Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 7-5 and Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 6-3.