Emma Raducanu overcomes ‘adversity’ to beat Sloane Stephens on Australian Open debut

Raducanu produced a promising performance to beat a fellow US Open winner

Harry Latham-Coyle
Tuesday 18 January 2022 16:02
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<p>Emma Raducanu overcame Sloane Stephens in her Australian Open debut </p>

Emma Raducanu overcame Sloane Stephens in her Australian Open debut

Emma Raducanu has said she is pleased to have survived a “tough match-up” against Sloane Stephens and reach the second round of her debut Australian Open.

The US Open champion is making her first appearance in Melbourne and produced a strong showing against the dangerous Stephens.

Having started brilliantly to take the first set without conceding a game, Raducanu was pegged back by a much improved second set from her American opponent.

With increasing dominance in longer exchanges, Stephens entered the decider with momentum, but Raducanu was able to reset and take a 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 win.

The 19-year-old, who is the 17th seed on debut in Australia, believes the final set margin did not reflect how fine the margins were in a first-round battle of Grand Slam winners, and was pleased at the resilience she showed after Stephens’ comeback.

“It was a tough match-up for a first round. I knew there was going to be some very long rallies and I was having to work extremely hard for my points,” Raducanu said on-court after sealing victory.

“I was very pleased. Coming out in the first set I thought I played some very good tennis with very little unforced errors and then of course there was going to be some adversity.

“In the long rallies she was just edging through with her defence. I am happy to have regrouped and in the third set I don’t think the score reflected the level out there because I was really feeling it.”

The match with Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, was Raducanu’s first at one of tennis’ four major tournaments since securing a stunning triumph in New York in September.

The teenager has struggled for consistency since a remarkable maiden Grand Slam win but produced an outstanding first set to rock Stephens, losing only four points in an authoritative first run-out on the Melbourne hard courts.

“Both me and Sloane really put everything out there and it was a very high-quality match. I’m very happy to come through against such a great champion.”

Raducanu will next face Danka Kovinic after the Montenegrin won her first-round match against qualifier Jang Su-jeong.

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