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Monday July 22, 2024

Raducanu eases past Stephens on Eastbourne grass

By AFP
June 26, 2024
Britains Emma Raducanu celebrates victory against Sloane Stephens at the Eastbourne International. —AFP/file
Britain's Emma Raducanu celebrates victory against Sloane Stephens at the Eastbourne International. —AFP/file 

LONDON: Emma Raducanu brushed aside Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-0 to advance to the second round of the Eastbourne International on Tuesday in a battle of former US Open champions.

Britain´s Raducanu recovered from being broken twice in the first set before demolishing her opponent in the second set to set up a second-round match against world number five Jessica Pegula.

Raducanu, who won the US Open as a qualifier in 2021, has slipped to 168th in the world after an injury-plagued 2023 season. The 21-year-old missed the French Open but returned to competition at the Nottingham Open grass-court tournament earlier this month, where she reached the semi-finals. “I think for me it was the case of adapting to the court,” said Raducanu, who has been given a wild card for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.

“I´ve never played in Eastbourne, I´ve never played on this centre court and every court plays a little bit differently. In the beginning, I was trying to figure out what was the best way for me to play and use my game.” Stephens, who won the US Open in 2017, broke first for a 3-2 lead but failed to hold serve for the rest of the match.

Raducanu, after saving two break points to hold for 5-4, broke the American for a third time to seal the first set and then sprinted to the finish line, completing victory in 76 minutes. Also in first-round action on England´s south coast, Elise Mertens beat Yuriko Miyazaki 6-1, 6-2 while Ashlyn Krueger overcame Viktorija Golubic 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 7-5. In the men´s tournament, Britain´s Cameron Norrie continued his woeful run of form, losing his first-round match against Finland´s Emil Ruusuvuori 7-6 (11/9), 6-3. Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild also advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Australia´s James McCabe to set up a second-round showdown with top seed Taylor Fritz.