Getting through her Wimbledon semifinal was easier for Agnieszka Radwanska than getting through the post-match news conference.
Radwanska reached her first Grand Slam final, outplaying Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 at the All England Club before succumbing to a coughing fit on the podium in the interview room that forced her to cut short the session with reporters.
Before that, though, her tennis had done all the talking she needed. Radwanska used her consistent groundstrokes to wear down Kerber in the long rallies, finishing with only six unforced errors.
She became the first Polish Grand Slam finalist since 1939, and can take over the No. 1 ranking by beating Serena Williams in the final.
"This tournament is already one of the big parts of tennis history in Poland," the third-ranked Radwanska said. "I'm happy to be part of that."
The last Polish player to reach a Grand Slam final was Jadwiga Jedrzejowska, who was runner-up in the French Championships in 1939.
Radwanska had never been in a Grand Slam semifinal before but is now one win away from being the top-ranked player in the world. Maria Sharapova held the No. 1 spot going into Wimbledon but was eliminated in the fourth round. If Radwanska doesn't win the final, second-ranked Victoria Azarenka will climb to No. 1 despite losing to Williams in their semifinal match.
"I will do everything in my power to be No. 1," Radwanska said, right before her coughing fit forced her off the podium.
To do that, she'll have to find a way to deal with Williams' big serve. The four-time Wimbledon champion hit a tournament-record 24 aces against Azarenka. But if Radwanska can get her returns in regularly, Williams knows she's in for a challenge.
"She's going to get every ball back, so I've got to look forward to that," Williams said. "She's doing unbelievable. She's been playing so great."
Against Kerber, her only wobble came in the third game when she sent a backhand drop shot wide to be broken. She went on to win the last five games of the set, however, and was never in danger after that.
Radwanska acknowledged that she felt a bit nervous playing in the biggest match of her life — so far.
"Of course this is the semifinals, so you really want to try your best, but sometimes too much, and your hands a little bit shaking," she said. "After a couple of games, I just relaxed a little bit. I was really focusing on every point."