Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Emma Raducanu’s Cincinnati run ends in last-16 as Iga Swiatek also suffers defeat

Brit Raducanu had already beaten Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka this week

Nick Mulvenney
Friday 19 August 2022 08:13 BST
Emma Raducanu’s scintillating early run at the Western and Southern Open has ended in a 7-5 6-4 defeat to Jessica Pegula
Emma Raducanu’s scintillating early run at the Western and Southern Open has ended in a 7-5 6-4 defeat to Jessica Pegula (USA TODAY Sports)

World number one Iga Swiatek and reigning U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu were both knocked out of the Cincinnati Open on Thursday, while second seed Anett Kontaveit also had her preparations for Flushing Meadows cut short in the round of 16.

Raducanu had beaten former Grand Slam champions Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the previous two rounds but was brought down to earth with a bump in a 7-5 6-4 defeat by Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American at eighth in the world.

“I definitely felt like I was pretty nervous tonight, not really knowing - well, knowing how she plays but not actually practising or hitting with her,” Pegula said.

“And then playing at night, the conditions are heavier. Just seemed so different when I got out there. I’m happy with how I pulled through with that and I guess another quarter-final.”

Raducanu will head into her U.S. Open title defence in just over a week relieved that she is swinging freely again and playing the same brand of attacking tennis that took her to a maiden Grand Slam title last year.

The 19-year-old put in ruthless performances at the Cincinnati Open to beat former major winners Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka before exiting the tournament with the defeat to world No8 Pegula.

“This week was a great step for me,” she told reporters on Thursday night. “In the past year it’s probably like the first tournament or like one of the few tournaments that I have actually, like started going for my shots more.

“This week I kind of just was like, ‘look, I’m just going to try, I don’t care if I make errors, like it’s fine, but I’m just going to like overhit if anything’. I’m pretty proud of how I did this week, and I think it’s a great step to move forward.”

Britain’s Raducanu was a 150th-ranked qualifier when she went on to lift the U.S. Open title last year without dropping a set. She has not won a tournament since.

Raducanu, who reached a career-high ranking of 10th last month, said she was tired of just trying to play defensively and realised that she would not succeed at the top level by just pushing the ball around.

“It is definitely like relieving, because I feel like I’m swinging with the same sort of freedom as I probably had, like, more similar to last year,” added Raducanu.

“So it feels really good. I think that I can really take it as a positive week, and I actually feel like I’m heading in a good direction again.”

Another American, Madison Keys, earlier accounted for Swiatek to take her place in the quarter-finals and register her first win over a reigning world number one.

Swiatek saved four match points but was far from her best as she exited a second tournament in the North American swing at the last-16 stage after last week’s Canadian Open.

(Getty Images)

Keys had failed to take a set off the Pole in two previous meetings but was far more clinical with her powerful returns and groundstrokes, breaking the world number one five times in the 6-3 6-4 victory.

“I obviously had a couple of games with a couple of match points, but I’m just so happy to be able to get the win,” said Keys, the 2019 Cincinnati champion.

“The last time I played her she beat me pretty badly, so I’m pretty glad to get that one under my belt.”

Keys will next face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who beat Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2 6-4 to sail into the quarter-finals.

Wimbledon runner-up and fifth seed Ons Jabeur also made her exit, ushered out of the door by twice major winner Petra Kvitova 6-1 4-6 6-0.

Kvitova next faces Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who staged a stunning comeback to beat Russian Veronika Kudermetova 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3 and reach her first WTA 1000 quarter-final.

“The restaurant is still open and I’m going to get five Graeter’s ice creams,” said Tomljanovic, who was backing up after finishing her previous match at 1.30 a.m. local time on Thursday.

World number two Kontaveit looked to have taken charge of her tie against Zhang Shuai when she won the opening set at a canter but her Chinese opponent dug deep to claim a stunning 2-6 6-4 6-4 upset.

Last year’s U.S. Open semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka defeated Shelby Rogers 6-4 6-7(2) 6-4, sealing victory with a backhand winner down the line.

“It was a crazy match, she played unbelievable tennis,” said Sabalenka, who faces Zhang in the next round.


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in