I always seem to be in a hurry to dismiss Agnieszka Radwanska as a true top-five player on the WTA tour, but I may have to reconsider since it doesn't appear the current world-No. 3 star is going away anytime soon.
The 23-year-old from Krakow, Poland, just keeps winning matches on the circuit. She's 56-16 this season, including trips into five finals, with three titles (Dubai, Miami and Brussels).
One of her losses in a 2012 championship match came at the hands of the world's truly top player (according to most), Serena Williams, in the Wimbledon final, which just so happened to mark the first Grand Slam final of Radwanska's career. She also reached a quarterfinal at the Aussie Open (but failed to reach the quarterfinals at the French and U.S. Opens).
The eight-year pro has appeared in 14 career WTA finals, going 10-4, with six of the 10 titles coming over the last two campaigns. Her most recent final occurred as recently as last week, when she, unfortunately, fell to resurgent Russian Nadia Petrova at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Talk about quietly getting the job done, "Aga" will finish inside the women's Top 10 for the fourth time in five years. But this year will mark her first-ever year-end top-five spot.
She's posted a bevy of quality wins this season, spearheaded by one against French Open champion and former world No. 1 great Maria Sharapova in the lucrative Miami finale back in April. The tactician that is Radwanska also has beaten other top-10 stars this season such as Angelique Kerber (twice), former Roland Garros titlist Li Na and former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli. And she's topped a trio of former world No. 1 stars on multiple occasions in 2012, having handled Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams, all two times apiece.
Radwanska has already established herself as the best-ever player from Poland, as she continues to try to give the European nation its first-ever No. 1 player. When she reached that Wimbledon final in July, she became the first Pole in the Open Era (1968) to reach a major championship match.
In 2007, Radwanska became the first-ever Polish player to capture a WTA singles title when she prevailed in Stockholm.
Her plaudits also include being voted as the WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer in 2006 and the WTA's Fan Favorite Singles Player in 2011.
Suffice it to say, she's the first Polish tennis player to exceed $10 million in prize money.
Did You Know?: Radwanska is a three-time Wimbledon and Aussie Open quarterfinalist but has never advanced beyond the fourth round at the U.S. and French Opens.
So how does Radwanska do it? Stay inside the Top 10, that is, with limited power in a power-crazed game. She doesn't possess that big serve, and isn't blessed with the big-time pop on her ground strokes.
She does it with great court sense, thinking two or three shots in advance. She's the tennis equivalent to a chess player, much like former world No. 1 great Martina Hingis, who certainly was no stranger to constructing points and making intelligent use of the court. So it should probably come as no surprise that Radwanska has credited Hingis as one of her inspirations.
Earlier this year, Tom Perrotta of The Wall Street Journal called Radwanska "the most tactically sound, subtle tennis player in the world."
I can't say that I would disagree.
And former pro Wojciech Fibak described her as "a natural mover who understands the geometry of the court."
Radwanska's game is based on variety and mobility. She frustrates her opponents with a blend of slices and lobs and has the ability to hit the ball at a variety of angles. She also can beautifully disguise a timely drop shot.
Did You Know?: Radwanska's younger sister, Urszula, also plays on the WTA and is currently ranked a career-high No. 32 in the world.
Radwanska (Agnieszka, that is) has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world this year and actually entered Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with a chance to exit both tournaments at No. 1.
It didn't quite happen.
Aga has stated that her goals are to win a Grand Slam title and become No. 1.
I wouldn't bet against her.