Flavia Pennetta Upsets Radwanska to Win Indian Wells

By Jane Voigt

March 16, 2014 -- Thirty-two year old Flavia Pennetta won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title today at the BNP Paribas Open. She stands alone alongside Martina Navratilova as the oldest players to win this prestigious event. 

Pennetta, seeded No. 20, defeated the odds on favorite No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 62 61, in what was expected to be a keen competition between two anachronistic players. However, the final turned gloomy when Radwanska's left knee went wobbly. 

The Pole entered Stadium 1 with raspberry colored Kinesio tape on the knee and right shoulder, which is a familiar sight. However, after one game in the second set she called the trainer and took a medical time out. With two additional visits from the medical team, the limit allowed by the WTA, Radwanska pushed through the second set hobbled and forlorn. 

The injury constrained Radwanska's biggest asset -- her movement. Without it, 'Aga' could not force Pennetta to fall under her tennis spell of crafty tactics. She ended the match with 10 winners and 29 unforced errors, possibly the worst set of stats of her career. 

Radwanska could not hold back her emotions on the podium. "I'm sorry I could not run as much as I could," she told fans who applauded her courage, as she wiped away tears. "I had a great week. First final here. Maybe one day I'll get the trophy from here. So thank you very much."

Pennetta, though, stayed on course and made this victory the biggest of her career. 

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Flavia Pennetta runs down her favorite shot, the backhand, against Roberta Vinci at the 2013 U. S. Open. Photo credit tennisclix.com

A year ago at Indian Wells, Pennetta was ousted from the draw by her friend and compatriot Francesca Schiavone. Pennetta had just returned from wrist surgery and rehabilitation. At the time, she seriously contemplated retirement. However, she persevered. At Wimbledon and The U.S. Open she made the fourth round, which extinguished her thoughts of calling it quits. Ranked No. 66 a year ago, she will rise to No. 12 Monday.

"I'm so happy right now I don't know what to say," Pennetta told fans. She turned to Radwanska, saying, "You are one of the best players in the world and I hope your injury improves soon."

Pennetta did not lost the importance of this day, though. "Today was my day and I really enjoy this morning. I love to play here."

On route to the final, Pennetta defeated both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds: Li Na in the semifinal and Radwanska in the final. The Italian also beat Samantha Stosur (No.16) and Sloane Stephens (No. 17). 

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A much happier Agnieszka Radwanska raises the women's singles championship trophy at the 2012 Sony Open. According to the WTA, since 2008 only four players have won multiple titles at Premier Mandatory tournaments. Radwanska is one, having won Beijing in 2011 and the Sony Open. Photo credit tennisclix.com

This was Pennetta's 12th appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. The deepest she had ever gone was round of 32, before this year, when she lost to none other than Radwanska. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013