Emma Raducanu set for landmark rankings boost after winning comeback on grass

Ewan West
Emma Raducanu following her match against Ena Shibahara (not pictured) on day two of the Rothesay Open at the Lexus Nottingham Tennis Centre, Nottingham
Emma Raducanu celebrates her win in Nottingham

Emma Raducanu has sealed her return to the top 200 of the WTA Rankings after earning a comfortable opening round win at the Nottingham Open. 

The 2021 US Open champion eased past world No 274 Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the WTA 250 tournament in an hour and 12 minutes.

Raducanu broke three times as she raced through the opening set and surged to a 5-1 second set lead, before she was broken twice when serving for the match as Shibahara brought the set back on serve.

The Brit responded, though, by breaking the 26-year-old Japanese qualifier for the sixth time to seal a convincing victory in her first match on grass in almost two years.

The 21-year-old had not played on the surface since her second round defeat to Caroline Garcia at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships, which was 713 days ago.

The former world No 10 was playing her first match in close to two months, having last featured at the Madrid Open in April, where she lost in the opening round to Maria Lourdes Carle.

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Raducanu, who was ranked 209th heading into this week, has climbed 16 places to 193rd in the live WTA Rankings with the 30 points earned from her win.

In her on-court interview, Raducanu said: “It’s been quite a few weeks since I last played a competitive match. I didn’t know how it was gonna go.

“I think my intentions were great from the start of the match. I think I played a really good match. At the end I think inevitably if you’re 6-1, 5-1 up, I figured something could probably go wrong.

“I was trying to not let it get to my head. Just preparing and fighting for each point. All credit to Ena. She’s making it tricky on the grass courts with the serve and volley. I’m very pleased with how I dealt with the circumstances today.”

Raducanu missed the grass-court season in 2023 after she underwent surgery on both her wrists and her ankle in May last year. She did not play a match after April last season and made her comeback at the WTA tournament in Auckland in January.

The 21-year-old is playing her eighth tournament of the 2024 season and holds a 10-7 record this year — including her two wins in the Billie Jean King Cup.

Raducanu will face world No 127 Daria Snigur in the second round in Nottingham. The 22-year-old upset second seed and fellow Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in her opening match.

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