BY IAN SHANTZ ,TORONTO SUN
TORONTO - Urszula Radwanska, fresh off being dispatched from the Rogers Cup, was glum. Disappointed. Defeated. Tired.
Then a smile arrived — not the fake kind. A real, genuine, wholehearted smile.
The topic of conversation? Her sister.
“My dream is to play final of Grand Slam against my sister,” the 22-year-old native of Poland said on Monday. “It doesn’t matter who’s going to win. To think that we’re going to go on court, playing final against each other, is amazing.”
It’s a dream many feel could become reality.
Agnieska Radwanska — the other half of the sibling equation — is ranked fourth in the world and is perhaps the best remaining bet to give top-ranked Serena Williams an honest run at the Rexall Centre.
World No. 2 Maria Sharapova dropped out a week before the event, citing an injury. World No. 3 Victoria Azarenka pulled out on the eve of the first round, citing a wonky back. Britain’s top player, Laura Robson, pulled the chute after suffering a wrist injury just prior to her first-round match on Monday.
It leaves Agnieska, who has a first-round bye, with a clearer path to the final, where Serena surely awaits.
And world No. 39 Urszula, eliminated by Italian Flavia Pennetta, will stick around to support her family member.
Makes sense. The sisters rarely leave each other’s side. They even share a room together while on tour.
While the Radwanskas are both entering their professional prime, it’s far-fetched to try to draw comparisons to another well-known sister duo.
“It’s not Venus and Serena,” said journalist Matt Cronin, who has been covering professional tennis for 21 years and is working for the Reuters agency during this week’s Toronto event. “It’s not the same.”
Maybe not. But you’d have to look far and wide to find a pair of pro-athlete siblings as talented — and as tight-knit — as the Radwanskas.
“We’re very, very close,” Agnieska said of the their relationship. “Not many siblings are on tour, so it’s something that we’re enjoying.”
And it’s something fans are enjoying, too. Agnieska, known for her improvising style of play and fancy shots, has won 12 tour titles but remains in search of her first Grand Slam title. She has reached the quarterfinals of a major event six times. Many feel it’s simply a matter of time before she breaks through.
“A white-and-red Wimbledon,” Polish publication Gazeta Wyborcza proudly declared as Agnieska made the final at Wimbledon last year, becoming the first Polish player in the Open Era to reach the singles final of a grand slam.
She lost to Venus Williams, as tennis players so often do, but it marked an upward trajectory and sister Urszula continues to make some strides. She is coming off quarterfinal appearances in her past two tournaments.
And the success, according to the sisters, is infectious.
“She’s now motivating me if she’s having success. I want to be the same,” Urszula said, adding there is not one iota of jealousy between them.
“Not at all. We just support each other.”
They have met before in a Grand Slam, with Urszula losing.
Twice before in history, have two sisters met in a Grand Slam final — in 1890 and in 2001, the first of eight meetings between Serena and Venus.
If the Radwanskas have their say, there will be a third.
“When we were still little, watching them on TV, the sisters doing so well. Both winning Grand Slams and being No. 1 and being the greatest players at the time and pretty much winning everything,” 24-year-old Agnieska said, recalling the impact of the Williams sisters. “It was a great feeling that now we’re together on tour at kind of the same level.”
They welcome the obvious comparison.
“It’s a great feeling ... they’re amazing players and they’ve done a lot of amazing things for women’s tennis,” Urszula said.