Sydney Tennis Classic: Elena Rybakina rolls past Emma Raducanu

Rybakina is fresh from reaching her eighth career final in Adelaide last week before falling to Ashleigh Barty in the title match.

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

Elena Rybakina continued her breathtaking start to 2022, easing past Emma Raducanu 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the Sydney Tennis Classic. The No.9 seed needed just 55 minutes to storm past the defending US Open champion on Tuesday. Rybakina is fresh from reaching her eighth career final in Adelaide last week before falling to Ashleigh Barty in the title match. On the other hand, Raducanu had to fight her own battles. She tested positive for Covid-19 last month and withdrew from the Melbourne Summer Set last week due to needing more preparation time. She was still competing in just her eighth WTA-level main draw. 

The result is the 19-year-old Briton’s first loss to a Top 20 player in three meetings, and the heaviest of her professional career by scoreline. The difference between the players was most evident on serve. Rybakina won 77% of her first serve points and 67% behind her second delivery. Raducanu’s respective numbers were 54% and 13%.

Raducanu, at a career-high of No.18 this week, started with a pair of one-two punches. However, three double faults followed in the same game, and she was never the same after that opening loss of serve. Rybakina won the opening set with relative ease and looked equally solid in the second as well, thereby shutting off any route for a Raducanu comeback.

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“My serve is a weapon, so I’m always working on it and trying to find some variety,” said Rybakina in the on-court interview. “For sure, it’s my game to play aggressive and my serve is helping a lot.” Next up for Rybakina is a second-round clash against former World No.4 Caroline Garcia, who defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4, 7-6.

Big names start with a win

Paula Badosa and Anett Kontaveit led the charge into the second round of the Sydney Tennis Classic on Monday, scoring their first wins of the 2022 season. After a first-round exit last week in Adelaide at the hands of former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, No.5 seed Badosa survived a difficult first set before easing past former major-winner in Jelena Ostapenko 7-6, 6-1.

On the other hand, Anett Kontaveit started on a positive note as well. She had ended her 2021 season by winning 29 of her last 34 matches. The World No.7 picked up where she left off in her 2022 debut. In Sydney, Kontaveit defeated Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-3 in just 89 minutes. 

Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova came from a set down to avoid being beaten in the first round. Notably, Kvitova had survived two match points in the final set to overcome Arantxa Rus, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.

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