Emma Raducanu beats former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Eastbourne opener ahead of Wimbledon | Tennis News

Emma Raducanu has cruised into the second round of the Rothesay International after a straight-sets win over fellow former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Eastbourne.

Raducanu twice battled back from a break down to take the opening set before rattling through the second in impressive fashion, claiming a 6-4 6-0 victory to the delight of the home crowd.

The 2021 US Open champion has struggled with form and injuries in recent seasons, but said ahead of this week’s event that she was confident “good things are 100 per cent going to happen” after rekindling her love of tennis.

Raducanu impressed during her straight sets victory

Raducanu, who has a wild card into Wimbledon next week, will play second seed Jessica Pegula – who received a bye – in the next round, while Katie Boulter is also through to the second round.

“It was a very close first set and I was down quite a bit all the way through and managed to break,” Raducanu said. “But it’s very difficult because Sloane is super athletic and, in the first set especially, she was making a lot of balls and counter-punching really well.

“It took a lot to try and hit through her but I managed to figure it out in the second set.”

Raducanu missed the entire grass-court season last year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle, yet she showed little sign of any fitness troubles as she warmed up for Wimbledon in devastating fashion by building on her recent run to the semi-finals of Nottingham.

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Having been cheered on to Centre Court by a supportive home crowd, Raducanu was aggressive from the outset. A succession of early holds was followed by four consecutive breaks of service during which the home favourite impressively dug in to prevent 31-year-old American Stephens gaining the upper hand.

A deft drop shot followed by an ace in game nine helped turn the contest in Raducanu’s favour before she unleashed a stunning backhand cross-court winner en route to sealing the set.

She then cruised through the second set as world No 45 Stephens, who triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2017, struggled to cope with her opponent’s power and precision.

Boulter joins Raducanu in second round

Boulter, who defeated Raducanu on her to retaining the Nottingham Open title earlier this month, then overcame Petra Martic on the same court.

 Great Britain's Katie Boulter (left) and Croatia's Petra Martic embrace after their match on day four of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024.
Katie Boulter (left) saw off Petra Martic to progress to the last 16

The 27-year-old was beaten by Croatian lucky loser Martic at the same stage 12 months ago but avenged that loss after racing ahead and then battling back from 5-1 down in a tense second-set tiebreak to progress 6-1 7-6 (8).

“That was a little stressful, a little bit more dramatic than I hoped it would be,” said Boulter, who will face 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the last 16.

“I played a tiebreak a couple of weeks ago which I didn’t come on the winning end of and I had that in the back of my head when I was playing that one there. I’m just very happy to be through that.

Katie Boulter came through a tough test to reach the last 16

“I know Petra very well. I lost to her on these courts last year. It’s a little bit of deja vu but this time I got the winning end, so I’m happy.”

Earlier, British wildcard Yuriko Miyazaki was comprehensively beaten 6-1 6-2 by Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

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