Meet the Ukrainian giant-killer facing Emma Raducanu in surprise Nottingham Open clash

Daria Snigur
Daria Snigur stands between Emma Raducanu and the Nottingham Open quarter-finals.

Emma Raducanu survived a late scare to breeze through her opening match at the Nottingham Open – and kickstart her grass court season.

After building a 6-1, 5-1 lead, the 2021 US Open champion failed to close the match out twice but ultimately broke for a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “It’s been quite a few weeks since I last played a competitive match, so I didn’t really know how it was going to go, but I think my intentions were great from the start of the match.

“I think I played a really good match and at the end, I think inevitably if you’re 6-1, 5-1 up something could probably go wrong, so I was trying not to let it get to my head and just preparing and fighting for each point.”

Raducanu may be the favourite for her round two match, against Daria Snigur – but the Ukrainian, currently the world No 127, is not to be underestimated.

Round One Upset

When the draw was made, Raducanu was largely expected to progress past a qualifier – later revealed to be Shibahara – in round one.

However, it looked like a tricky draw in the long run – with second seed Marta Kostyuk her projected opponent in round two.

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The Ukrainian has been in career-best form this season and is ninth in the WTA Race to Riyadh – but was stunned in round one early on Tuesday.

World No 17 Kostyuk was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by compatriot Snigur, an opponent 110 places below her in the WTA Rankings.

Perennial giant-killer

Snigur is no stranger to huge upsets, with Kostyuk far from the first high-profile name the 22-year-old has beaten in her career.

Twelve months ago the Ukrainian entered the Nottingham draw as a lucky loser and again beat the second seed, downing defending champion and 2023 French Open semi-finalist Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4, 6-3.

But that is not the most famous result of Snigur’s career.

She made her Grand Slam debut at the 2022 US Open as a qualifier and was handed a tough draw against two-time major winner and former world No 1 Simona Halep – a title favourite heading in.

But Snigur produced the performance of her life to beat the Romanian 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and reach the second round, in what was Halep’s final match before her suspension.

Snigur has struggled to make too many inroads on the Grand Slam stage since then, with qualification for the Australian Open this year her only other major main draw appearance.

Junior success

Snigur is yet to make significant inroads into the senior game, with a career-high ranking of world No 105 achieved in November 2022.

However, she was a hugely talented – and successful – junior.

The 22-year-old reached a career-high of second in the ITF rankings, no mean feat considering the competitiveness of the junior game.

And she is perhaps best remembered for her Wimbledon girls’ singles triumph in 2019.

Unseeded in the draw, Snigur did not drop a set on her way to the semi-final, where she beat top seed – and current WTA world No. 18 – Emma Navarro in straight sets to reach the final.

Snigur capped off her epic run with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alexa Noel to claim the title.

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Legendary coach

Snigur has a hugely experienced coach behind her in the form of Larisa Neiland.

Neiland reached a career-high of 13th in singles but was a world No 1 in doubles, winning French Open and Wimbledon titles – alongside four mixed doubles Slams.

The two have a long-term partnership, and the Latvian will be looking to use all her knowledge to guide her charge past Raducanu next.

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