Emma Raducanu brims with confidence on sizzling Eastbourne court as British star defeats American Sloane Stephens – dropping only three games in emphatic first-round win

  • Emma Raducanu continues to star on her return to playing ahead of Wimbledon
  • The British ace produced an impressive display against Sloane Stephens
  • Raducanu will face another American, Jessica Pegula, in the second round 

Emma Raducanu’s relighted fire burned bright as she took out fellow US Open champion Sloane Stephens on a blazing hot day in Eastbourne.

The 21-year-old spoke on Monday of her new-found love for tennis after a near-two month break after the Madrid Open in March. 

She said she was sure good things were coming and all those big words were backed up by a big performance in the first round of the Rothesay International.

After a hesitant opening against former world No3 Stephens, from 4-3 down Raducanu won nine games in a row to take the match 6-3, 6-0. 

She will face another American, Jessica Pegula, in Wednesday’s second round and with the No2 seed fresh off the first grass court title of her career in Berlin, that will be a serious test.

Emma Raducanu starred as she beat Sloane Stephens on a blazing hot day in Eastbourne on Tuesday

From 4-3 down Raducanu won nine games in a row to take the match 6-3, 6-0

From 4-3 down Raducanu won nine games in a row to take the match 6-3, 6-0

Raducanu seemed to struggle to time the forehand, especially down the line, but improved as the match progressed

Raducanu seemed to struggle to time the forehand, especially down the line, but improved as the match progressed

In 26oC heat and with the seagulls cawing overhead, the players produced a high-quality first set. 

Raducanu seemed to struggle to time the forehand, especially down the line, but coach Nick Cavaday appeared to suggest she hit with more shape and spin, and that advice did the business.

With Stephens serving to stay in the set Raducanu won the last three points off the back of a three forehands down the line. 

The penultimate one to bring up set point was the shot of the match, a missile delivered from such a low stance she was almost kneeling on the court.

Stephens struggled to find her regular form in the baking 26 degree heat at Eastbourne

Stephens struggled to find her regular form in the baking 26 degree heat at Eastbourne

Raducanu won the last three points off the back of a three forehands down the line

Raducanu won the last three points off the back of a three forehands down the line

Confidence was coursing through her after an early break in the second set and she blasted seven winners in 10 points during a spell that took the match away from a quickly fading Stephens. In all she hit 13 winners and one unforced error in the final set.

The Stephens serve looked strangely underpowered and Raducanu broke her six times in a row.

‘This was my first time on this Centre Court,’ said Raducanu on court after the match. ‘Every court plays a little differently and in the beginning I was just trying to figure out the best way for me to play. 

‘It’s difficult because Sloane is super athletic and in the first set especially she was making a lot of balls. It took a lot to get through that but I managed to figure it out in the second set.’

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