Australian Open: Emma Raducanu beats Sloane Stephens on Melbourne debut

1 year ago 46
Emma RaducanuEmma Raducanu became Britain's first female Grand Slam champion in 44 years when she won the US Open in September
Dates: 17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.

Britain's Emma Raducanu showed quality and resilience to beat American Sloane Stephens in three sets for a spot in the Australian Open second round.

On her senior debut in Melbourne, the US Open champion won 6-0 2-6 6-1 against Stephens, another previous winner in New York.

Raducanu, seeded 17th, was sharp as she wrapped up the first set in 17 minutes before errors crept into her game.

Stephens took advantage to level but Raducanu reasserted control to win.

The 19-year-old will face Montenegro's Danka Kovinic in the second round on Thursday.

Raducanu cupped her head and dropped the racquet in what is becoming a trademark celebration, illustrating how much it meant to win her first Grand Slam match since Flushing Meadows.

"Both me and Sloane put everything out there and it was a very good match," said Raducanu, who wrapped up victory shortly before midnight and thanked an excited crowd for staying.

"We had some great rallies and I'm happy to come through against such a great champion."

'Let Raducanu develop - and be patient'

Raducanu shines again on biggest stage

Intrigue has surrounded Raducanu going into the 2022 season as everyone wonders how she will follow her stunning ascent to the US Open title.

Eyebrows were raised when her opening match of the year ended in a 6-0 6-1 defeat by Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina in Sydney.

Wins have been hard to come by since her stunning victory in New York, but she showed again in Melbourne how much she thrives on the big stage.

With her pre-season preparation limited by contracting Covid-19, Raducanu lost to Rybakina in 55 minutes.

Against Stephens, it looked like Raducanu might be wrapped up even earlier a week on - this time for wildly different reasons.

Stephens, who won the 2017 US Open, had not played for two months and only arrived in Australia recently after getting married on New Year's Day in the US.

Her lack of on-court time showed as she won only four points in an error-strewn opening set.

The second set completely switched. Raducanu was the one who started to make mistakes - racking up 19 unforced errors compared to only two in the first - and 28-year-old Stephens took advantage to level.

Raducanu, who had never played a deciding set in a Grand Slam main-draw match, broke serve twice to race 5-0 in front in the final set.

Three match points quickly arrived in the seventh game and, after a brief delay caused by an intruding moth on the baseline, Raducanu took the final match point when Stephens flicked into the net.

"It was a tough match-up for a first round," said Raducanu.

"I knew there would some long rallies because her athleticism is right up there. I had to work extremely hard for those points.

"Coming out for the first set, I played very good tennis, but of course there was always going to be some adversity. I'm happy to have regrouped in the third set.

"I don't think the scoreline reflected what happened in the third set."

Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone

Around the BBC - Sounds

The artist formerly known as evil or genius? The team uncover the truths behind pop legend PrinceWho is the Q Shaman? The search for the story that drove crowds to storm the US Capitol

Around the BBC footer - Sounds

Read Entire Article