Emma Raducanu news: From blistering start to second-set slump to three-set win
Emma Raducanu shone at a Grand Slam again as she marked her Australian Open debut with victory in the battle of the US Open champions against Sloane Stephens.
The 19-year-old has found wins hard to come by since her extraordinary success in New York in September but, back on the big stage, Raducanu came up with the right formula again to claim a 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 victory.
She lost just four points in a startling first set that admittedly was woeful from Stephens before the American hit her stride in the second.
A Melbourne moment to remember ✨
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2022
That set up a first ever decider at this level for Raducanu, and she could not have handled it any better, keeping her cool and striking the ball with confidence to clinch victory after an hour and 45 minutes.
Both players went into the match undercooked – Raducanu after a battle with Covid-19 and Stephens following her wedding to footballer Jozy Altidore on New Year’s Day.
Raducanu won only one game against Elena Rybakina in Sydney last week having just returned to full training and it was hard to know what to expect from her here.
What transpired in a remarkable 17-minute first set was that Raducanu had found her sharpness while Stephens looked like she was still on honeymoon.
Stephens made error after error, allowing Raducanu the freedom to go for winners, which she made with aplomb.
Stephens looked a star in the making when she reached the semi-finals here nine years ago but her career had been more troughs than peaks prior to a brilliant run to the title in New York in 2017.
The last few years have brought a few more highlights mixed with many underwhelming results but Stephens remains a fluent ball striker and sublime mover, and someone who often finds her best on the big stage.
Her scalps at the slams last year included Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys and Coco Gauff, and she set about turning things around at the start of the second set.
She was helped initially by a dip in level from Raducanu but it did not appear to bode well for the teenager that, even when she found her range again, the fleet-footed Stephens still had the answers.
Raducanu knew how important the start of the deciding set was and she gave a gritty fist pump after holding serve in the first game.
If there was evidence here of Raducanu’s greenness, there was also plenty of the prodigious ball-striking that wowed fans and players alike at Wimbledon and the US Open, and the competitive steel that was just as important in her success.
She broke Stephens to lead 2-0 and then overcame an embarrassing moment when she thought she had won the next game only to be told by the umpire that it was in fact 40-15.
Stephens’ heart for the fight began to ebb away and, although she avoided a second bagel, a netted backhand gave Raducanu victory on her third match point.
Australia Open organisers hint at Novak Djokovic return in 2023
It looks likely that Novak Djokovic will take part in the 2023 Australian Open.
Why Emma Raducanu should take encouragement from her recent near misses
Emma Raducanu should take encouragement from her recent near misses.
Carlos Alcaraz to take lessons from David Goffin’s spanking
Carlos Alcaraz says he will take lessons from the spanking he got from David Goffin.
Daria Kasatkina ousts Emma Raducanu in first round of Agel Open
The British number one was beaten 7-5 6-4 at the Czech tournament.
Nick Kyrgios requests dismissal of assault charge – reports
Nick Kyrgios’ case continues to move through the system despite his absence.
Dual ATP 500 week opens with huge upsets as Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz lose
Tokyo and Nur-Sultan have both lost their top seeds early in the week.
On This Day: Maria Sharapova sees doping ban reduced
The Russian star had tested positive for the cardiac drug meldonium earlier in the year.
Emma Raducanu windfall to be reinvested in girl’s game
Prime Video LTA Youth Girls will train coaches across Great Britain to deliver lessons specifically designed for girls.
Novak Djokovic still has Olympic dream in his sights
The Olympic dream still claws at Novak Djokovic.