Teenage US Open champion Emma Raducanu sent 2017 Flushing Meadows winner Sloane Stephens crashing out of the Australian Open at the first hurdle Tuesday, producing some devastating tennis in a return to form.
made history by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title
in New York last year, but had won only two matches since.
19-year-old was back to her dazzling best on Margaret Court Arena despite a
second-set battle, ousting the American Stephens 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 in a performance
that will make her rivals sit up and take notice.
me and Sloane really put everything out there. I thought it was a high-quality
match with some great rallies,” said the 17th seed from Britain, who was
making her Australian Open debut.
really happy to come through against a great champion like here.
a tough match for the first round, I had to work extremely hard for every
point, and I’m very pleased.”
ranked just 67, but had plenty of experience, reaching at least the
quarter-finals at all four Slams.
has struggled in Melbourne since reaching the last four in 2013, slumping in
the first round now on six occasions since.
In the first
clash between the two players, the Briton made a blistering start, racing to a
3-0 lead with Stephens winning just two points.
full of confidence and aggressive, not letting the American into the match,
pushing her around the court and producing some fine winners.
shellshocked, losing the first set in just 17 minutes.
re-grouped at the changeover and earned five break points on the Raducanu serve
in a huge first game of the second set, finally getting on the scoreboard
courtesy of a double fault.
game lasted 12 minutes, just five minutes less than the entire first set.
held serve for 2-0 and then broke twice more to win the set convincingly as she
lifted her game dramatically and her experience came to the fore.
But it was
Raducanu who came out all guns blazing in the third set, playing like she did
in the first, to storm a double break clear before sealing the win.
next play Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, who beat Korean qualifier Jang Se-jeong
in three sets.