Australian Open: Emma Raducanu downs Sloane Stephens in three sets

In a battle of US Open champions, No.17 seed Emma Raducanu needed three sets to overcome Sloane Stephens in the first round of the Australian Open.

Emma Raducanu in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@usopen

Teenage sensation Emma Raducanu survived a three-set battle in what was a clash of US Open champions over Sloane Stephens on Tuesday. The 19-year-old needed 1 hour and 45 minutes to move into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 win. Raducanu, who became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title in New York last year, was facing another major winner for the first time in Stephens, who had won the US Open title in 2017. Coming from the back of a 54-minute defeat in the first round of Sydney last week at the hands of Elena Rybakina, Raducanu seemed to have found her gear in Melbourne, as she extended her Grand Slam main draw record to 11-1.

No.17 seed Emma Raducanu was unplayable in the first set, as she came roaring out of the blocks to make life extremely difficult for her opponent. In a lopsided first set, the Briton took just 17 minutes to clinch it, dropping only four points in the process. Next, it was Stephens’ chance to show her dominance, as she sealed the break early in the second set. The American never looked back, going on to clinch the set by losing only two games.

Undeterred by the disappointment of losing the second set, Emma Raducanu made another flying start in the decider. In no time, she sealed the double break for 4-0. From there on, she went on to win the final set and the match comprehensively. Next up for Raducanu is a clash against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, who overcame South Korean qualifier Jang Su Jeong 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in 3 hours and 9 minutes.

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Emma Raducanu: Executed my game plan pretty well

“I went out there and I played a great first set,” Emma Raducanu said afterwards. “I executed my game plan pretty well and was making very little unforced errors, but of course because Sloane is a great champion, she was fighting back in the second set.

“Her defensive skills were pretty inspiring, actually, for me to try and replicate myself later on. So we got into some long rallies. She turned it around. Then in the third set I’m just glad I could regroup and make less errors again and play some good tennis.

“Some of those shots she was getting to I couldn’t believe, like her squash shot, her forehand on the run, I couldn’t believe the ball kept coming back. I definitely think that I want to learn from that, and it’s tough, because it’s a bit deceiving. You don’t think she’s at the ball, but then she comes back and the ball is coming back with an even better angle on it.”

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