MELBOURNE, Australia – Agnieszka Radwanska's fourth-round match against Anna-Lena Friedsam had a little of everything: a blown third-set lead, severe cramping, an underhand serve, and a point penalty for delay of game. There were also tears — lots of tears.
In the end, Radwanska survived the two-and-a-half-hour match, pulling out a dramatic 6-7 (6), 1-6, 7-5 win to reach the quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years, while Friedsam limped off the court, sobbing, to a standing ovation.
The 21-year-old Friedsam, who is ranked No. 82 and had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam before, raced out to a 5-2 lead in the final set before No. 4-seeded Radwanska rallied and broke back to make it 5-4.
That's when Friedsam's body began to give out. Feeling tightness in her leg, she took a medical timeout on the next changeover to have her right thigh wrapped. Then, after Radwanska easily held serve for 5-all, Friedsam started cramping badly.
Standing at the baseline preparing to serve, she grabbed her leg and stretched it, her face crumpling. She hit an underhand serve that sailed long, then tried a regular serve without lifting off her leg, which also went out.
"I didn't know really if it was cramping or I'm injured because I never had this before," she said. "I couldn't stay on this leg anymore."
Friedsam pushed through the teary game, the crowd willing her on.
And Radwanska made her run. First a drop shot-lob combo, then two points later, another drop shot.
After Friedsam chased down the second drop shot, she buckled over and screamed, grabbing her other leg. Crying again, she staggered back to the baseline to serve but took too much time and received a point penalty from the chair umpire, losing the game amid boos from the crowd.
"Yes, well, I think you're trying to make her run definitely," Radwanska said. "It's tough because you know someone is struggling. But you really have to play your game because someone is still fighting. Sometimes you just don't want to do the stupid mistakes in those moments. Then the hand is a bit shaking. You want it too much. Then it's kind of weird situation."
Friedsam was indeed still fighting, until the last ball. She never contemplated retiring.
"I didn't know how to handle it," she said. "So I said, 'Maybe at 5-6, I will relax a little bit.'... It was near the end of the match, so I tried."
Radwanska can sympathize — she knows what a cramp feels like. "Definitely it's hurting, it's painful," she said. "It's hard to see that."
The former Wimbledon finalist also knows she's lucky to reach the quarterfinals here again. She next plays No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the semifinals, which would match her best result in Melbourne.
"Of course, it gives me confidence that I won something that maybe I shouldn't in the end," she said. "But if I have to choose, I prefer two-set matches."