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RIO DE JANEIRO – Agnieszka Radwanska, a player not known for outbursts on court, had plenty of good reasons to take out her frustrations on her racket in her first-round Olympic match.
Fifty-five of them, to be exact — the number of hours it took her to get from Montreal to Rio de Janeiro this week. She didn't arrive until Wednesday night, leaving far less practice time than she had hoped, and then she got sick, too.
The fourth-seeded Radwanska played Saturday on the first day of the tournament and was upset by 64th-ranked Zheng Saisai 6-4, 7-5, with an uncharacteristic racket smash along the way.
"It's not helping with the score, unfortunately, but at least it's good feeling that you have some power to break the racket, you know?" Radwanska said.
She spent much of this week feeling powerless against the vagaries of the airline industry. After losing in the round of 16 at Rogers Cup, she was supposed to fly out of Canada on Monday morning.
First the delay was one hour, then two, then three. She finally boarded the plane only to sit on the tarmac for two more hours because the aircraft was too heavy, she said.
The flight landed and "I was running like hell" through the terminal to try to make her connection. No such luck. Then she was running back the other direction to try to rebook.
Eventually an airline rep told her she already had a new itinerary — for Friday.
"Basically I wouldn't be on time for my match," she recalled thinking.
"I was looking at her like she was kidding," Radwanska added, her face strained at the exasperating memories.
She waited in line for hours, spent just as long on the phone with her agent and others trying to find an alternative. The next morning, it was the same thing all over again. Meanwhile, she didn't have her luggage, which somehow was able to get on a plane to Rio even though she couldn't.
Her reaction to that news: "Seriously?"
"The bags went without me!" Radwanska marveled Saturday. "I never heard of it."
The only way to get from New York to Rio was to take a little detour — through Lisbon, Portugal. Only about 3,000 miles out of the way.
Radwanska spent five hours at Newark Airport to catch the late-night flight to Europe, but even when she finally landed in Rio, the saga wasn't over. What was supposed to be a 30-minute bus ride to the Olympic village turned into two hours because of a security scare.
And perhaps not surprisingly considering all that aggravation, she soon started feeling ill. After 55 hours of travel, her singles tournament ended in 99 minutes. Radwanska still hopes to play mixed doubles for Poland.
In the moments after her quick exit from her third Olympics, the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up couldn't find much humor in the situation.
"A lot of miles, a lot of points," she said dryly, noting that she had lost out on the chance of an award of incalculable value: "Olympic gold forever."