Emma Raducanu finishes strong to reach second round in Madrid

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Emma Raducanu has won 11 of the last 12 matches to beat Tereza Martincova for the second time in a fortnight in the first round of the Madrid Open.

Czech Martincova was Raducanu’s opponent for her first professional match on clay in the Billie Jean King Cup tie in Prague earlier this month, with the US Open champion battling for a 7- 5 7-5.

She found herself 5-2 down in the first set at Caja Magica but turned it around in impressive fashion, saving two set points on Martincova’s serve at 5-3 before running away with the second set in a 7-6 (3) 6-0 win.

Speaking during his on-court interview, Raducanu said: “It was a tricky first set. I think it’s always difficult to play on a brand new court, so it took me a bit of time. to adapt to my environment.

“And, of course, if you’re weak or lacking in your own game, an opponent of that level will take advantage of that. I’m just glad I held the first set and was definitely relaxed in the second.

“I love Madrid, I’ve been out once, it’s such a cool vibe. I can’t wait and hope I can spend a few more days here.

Raducanu is backed in Madrid by Lawn Tennis Association head of women’s tennis Iain Bates after parting ways with Torben Beltz earlier this week despite an encouraging performance in Stuttgart last week.

In explaining another coaching change, the 19-year-old cited her belief in her own game and decision-making, and that was certainly in evidence here.

Raducanu continues to learn the ropes on clay and she has adapted her game after being beaten early on, using more spin and mixing rhythm and angles to get Martincova out of her rhythm.

It certainly worked, and the world No. 49 could find no answer in the second set as Raducanu headed into a second-round clash with fellow teenager Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.

Raducanu showed a tendency to drop in intensity after winning tight opening sets, so it was an encouraging step forward on that front, while the fact that she was able to play a third tournament in a row suggests that his physical resilience is also heading to the right. direction.

She lost a one-sided contest to 19-year-old Kostyuk in Romania last October, but was battling illness at the time.

Raducanu told wtatennis.com: “Throughout the juniors, she was always the favorite when we played. She was considered much better. It’s funny. When we played last year, she played very well, but I wasn’t very well that day either. So it will be an interesting match.

Naomi Osaka, back on clay for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open amid mental health issues, started her campaign confidently with a 6-3 6-1 win over in-form Anastasia Potapova.

Andy Murray, meanwhile, had a high-profile first-round clash with former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, who is recovering from a long wrist injury, in next week’s men’s event. .

It will be the first tournament since the French Open last year with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal recovering from a fractured rib.

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