PREVIEW-Tennis-Favourite Serena wary of ailing Radwanska

LONDON, July 6 Fri Jul 6, 2012 8:39pm BST

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LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - Serena Williams was a firm favourite to win her fifth Wimbledon title on Saturday even before her final opponent Agnieszka Radwanska revealed she was struggling with a respiratory illness.

The American sixth seed served more aces in her semi-final win over Victoria Azarenka than the Polish third seed has managed all tournament but Williams will not be under-estimating a player who will become world number one if she wins her first grand slam title.

"She's definitely resting up for tomorrow," the 30-year-old Williams told a news conference on Friday. "She's looking good and getting ready. This is a big thing."

Radwanska has won three titles this year to climb to number three in the world, reward for a player without a particular strength to her game but also few weaknesses.

"Radwanska has been playing well," Williams said. "She won Miami. She's been consistent this year, more consistent than I have.

"That already tells me from the beginning I really need to go out there and be ready to hit a lot of shots and be ready to play hard.

"She has great hands and she does everything so well. If I come out flat, I won't win."

Since the American won the last of her 13 grand slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 2010, she has had to deal with a gashed foot and serious health problems that threatened to end her career.

After overcoming those hurdles, she is eager to step back into the winner's circle.

"Oh, my gosh, it would mean a lot to me," she said. "But I have to get there. I have to go out there and fight for this. This is by no means going to be easy. Never, ever do I underestimate any opponent.

"Hopefully I'll do it. That would be awesome."

CRAFTY GAME

Radwanska, 23, used her crafty all-court game to great effect in her straight-sets victory over eighth seed Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals but she has lost both career matches against Williams, albeit four years ago.

"I played Serena a couple of times, but it was long time ago," she said. "I didn't play her I think in last two years.

"It's always tough. She's a very tough opponent and hitting the ball very well. Of course she's playing great tennis on the grass.

"I don't really have anything to lose, so just going to try my best."

Radwanska, who missed her news conference on Friday due to her illness, said she would have to be cute to combat Williams's raw power.

"Every player is different but most of the players are very powerful," she said. "I'm just going to try to mix it up everything.

"Unfortunately I have picked up an upper respiratory illness, which is affecting my nose and throat. I have been playing a lot of matches here in the rain and cold wind, and I haven't been well for a few days.

"The most important thing is that I'm feeling good on the court and playing some good tennis, despite not being able to talk much away from the court.

Despite not feeling well, Radwanska is relishing the prospect of facing the four-times Wimbledon champion.

"It is going to be another challenge, especially here on grass. She's playing amazing tennis at the moment," the Pole said.

"Everyone dreams when they are a kid about becoming number one, so I'm very happy to have a chance to play for the top ranking. But there is still one very tough match to go." (Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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