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Jan 16, 2024 11:51 am

Pain-free Emma Raducanu breezes to 1st-round win at Aussie Open

Emma Raducanu celebrated playing her first Grand Slam match in 12 months with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory over American Shelby Rogers on Tuesday in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Raducanu, a 21-year-old from Great Britain, won 91 percent of her first-serve points and fired four aces en route to dispatching Rogers in 76 minutes.

The relatively speedy victory on Tuesday represents quite the turnaround for Raducanu, who was hampered last season after undergoing surgery on both her hands and her ankle.

“Last year, I travelled here on a wheelchair,” Raducanu said. “I only started hitting three days before the match. That whole process was a lot of stress.

“This year, there’s just a lot more calm. I think I’m more level-headed. I think things around me have settled. I do feel better, and there’s less highs and lows around. It’s more of an equilibrium.”

Rogers, who committed 35 unforced errors, can relate to trying to rebound from a prolonged absence. She sat out the back half of last season after undergoing knee surgery following Wimbledon.

Raducanu advanced to the second round to face China’s Wang Yafan, who rebounded from a dismal first set to record a 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over 22nd-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Also on Tuesday, third-seeded Elena Rybakina saved a triple-set point in the first set tiebreak to notch a 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Rybakina improved to 4-0 versus Pliskova in head-to-head competition to set up a second-round match versus Anna Blinkova.

“It was a really tough match for me today. Karolina, she played really well. It was not easy at all, especially a first round like this,” Rybakina said during her on-court interview. “Really happy I managed to win and survive the first set. In the second, it was a bit better.”

Rybakina, of Kazakhstan, improved to 7-1 this season after capturing her sixth career title in Brisbane two weeks ago. She was a finalist at last year’s Australian Open.

Fifth-seeded Jessica Pegula converted 71 percent of her first serves to seize a 6-2, 6-4 win over Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino. Pegula fended off four of five break-point attempts to set up a second-round match versus France’s Clara Burel.

Also, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic notched a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 win over Petra Martic of Croatia.

–Field Level Media

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