Emma Raducanu’s blistering start to the Australian Open has been hailed on social media as ‘flawless’ after taking Sloan Stephens apart in three sets, with ex-British No 1 Greg Rusedski claiming she has shown ‘the sign of a champion’.
The teenager is still riding the wave of her incredible US Open triumph in September but had struggled at a handful of tour events since – losing in straight sets to Elena Rybakina at the Sydney international last week.
But she has found her best form at a Grand Slam once again and cruised past American Stephens in her opening game in Melbourne, taking just 17 minutes to see her off 6-0 to get off to the best possible start.
She lost the second set 6-2 in a wake-up call, before bouncing back immediately to crush her opponent 6-1 in the deciding set and move into the second round.
Rusedski lead the praise for Raducanu online after the scintellating first set, saying the 19-year-old had shown she brings her best performances when it truly matters.
‘Whenever there is a slam, @EmmaRaducanu brings out her best tennis,’ Rusedski wrote. ‘Sign of a champion when you can do that at the biggest events. Perfect start from Emma.’
Emma Raducanu has been roundly hailed on social media after her stunning first set against Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open
The British sensation took just 17 minutes to complete a 6-0 first set lead over the American
Piers Morgan chimed in with the plaudits, calling her ‘brilliant’ after her welcome return to form Down Under.
‘She’s back,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘Brilliant stuff @EmmaRaducanu.’
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker called it ‘an excellent performance victory’, while even former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher got involved, telling her ‘well played’.
Tennis fans were left blown away by her stunning display too, with one calling her ‘a big game destroyer’.
‘Wow. Already looking at Raducanu’s draw after a 20 minute first set,’ wrote one user. ‘Big game player. Big game destroyer. Just unbelievable mentality.’
Another said: ‘Incredible from Emma Raducanu so far. Hitting with power, precision and good decision-making.’
‘Emma Raducanu just played a flawless set of tennis! Wow’, marvelled another viewer, while one agreed she was built for the top level of the game – despite her ongoing struggles since winning the US Open.
Raducanu was given a wake up call by losing the second set but won the match against Stephens by comfortably winning the third 6-1
‘Raducanu looks sensational again, despite barely winning a game since the US Open, suddenly has come out this morning and is crushing it. Big game player. Perfect performance so far.’
And her rise to form again was described as ‘bonkers’, with a punter claiming she had returned to ‘US Open beast mode’.
‘This is bonkers after what Raducanu dished up a week ago. Has she unlocked US Open beast mode?’
It completes a remarkable turnaround for Raducanu, who had struggled to perform at a handful of events since her unthinkable victory at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
The 19-year-old is looking to dazzle at another Grand Slam – four months after her stunning US Open triumph at Flushing Meadows
She did the unthinkable by winning the prestigious trophy in her first ever Grand Slam
Raducanu has struggled to find the same level of form since, suffering a handful of comprehensive defeats on the ATP Tour
She managed to win just one game in a comprehensive straight-sets loss to Rybakina in Sydney, losing 6-0, 6-1 in the Round of 32, and was beaten in three sets by Xinyu Wang in the Linz Open in November.
She had made it to the quarter-finals of the Transylvania Open before being defeated 6-2, 6-1 by Ukranian Marta Kostyuk in October, and in the same month at Indian Wells – her first competition since the US Open – she was well beaten by Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round.
And Raducanu was given a reminder of the concentration levels needed in the second set at the Australian Open as her opponent Stephens rallied to win it 6-2 despite her lacklustre display in the first.
She found herself in uncharted waters as she dropped a set at a Grand Slam for the first time ever – with fears her rotten form over the last few months would be making a return, but she regained her composure to wrap the match up 6-0, 2-6, 6-1.
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