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Poland relishes tennis success at Wimbledon

WARSAW, Poland – The last time Poland was a factor on the men’s side of a Grand Slam draw, Wojtek Fibak was the country’s top player and Lech Walesa was its top politician.

That was back in 1980. Now, 33 years later, the country that loves soccer is talking about tennis.

On Tuesday, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Li Na of China to move a win away from her second straight Wimbledon final.

The bigger buzz, however, was about the men. Today, Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot will be the first Polish men to play a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Fibak made the round of 8 three times in 1980. The winner will be the first Polish man to make a Grand Slam semifinal.

One of the country’s newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, called it “A white-and-red Wimbledon,” referring to the colors of the Polish flag. The Rzeczpospolita daily declared: “We will have a Polish quarterfinal.”

“I am extremely happy, not only because Lukasz is in the quarterfinal, but because for sure we will have a Pole in the Wimbledon semifinals,” said Kubot’s former coach Pawel Jaroch.

Last year, Radwanska became the first Polish woman since 1939 to reach a Grand Slam final before she fell to Serena Williams.

“You know, it’s great to have now guys doing very, very well,” Radwanska said.

Kubot said the sport was already on the rise in Poland.

“You should go to Poland and see what’s going to happen,” Kubot said. “I think that tennis is getting very popular in Poland, and I’m happy and proud we can represent our country in these kinds of tournaments.”