After a near-injury scare, Emma Raducanu returned to the court successfully and won in straight sets to advance to the Australian Open second round.
The British number one defeated Tamara Korpatsch of Germany on the first day of competition in Melbourne, winning 6-3, 6-2.
Emma Raducanu, 20, rolled her ankle 11 days ago in Auckland, and her excitement at passing her initial test was evident in her beaming face as the win was finalized.
In round two, the seventh-seeded American Coco Gauff will take against the world’s number 77.
Gauff, 18, opened her match at Melbourne Park by defeating Czech opponent Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 6-4. She is one of the favorites to win the women’s singles competition.
Gauff’s doubles partner Jessica Pegula, an American third seed who was also widely expected to win her first major singles title, made an even bigger statement by defeating Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1 in just 59 minutes.
As he continues to rehabilitate his career following a catastrophic knee injury, British player Kyle Edmund was defeated 6-4 6-0 6-2 by Italian 15th seed Jannik Sinner in the men’s singles match.
After requiring three procedures and playing with a protected ranking, Edmund, 28, who reached the semi-finals in 2018, has seen his career fall apart.
Raducanu has had a comfortable start, but greater tests still lie ahead.
Her hopes of competing in the season’s opening major was seriously questioned when Emma Raducanu departed the Auckland court in tears.
After hiring Andy Murray’s former fitness coach Jez Green, the Briton worked arduously in the offseason to strengthen her body to withstand the demands of the WTA Tour. Physical issues have dogged the British player since she became a household name by winning the 2021 US Open as a teenage qualifier.
She rolled her left ankle in what she called a “freak accident,” and it was a painful blow.
Throughout last week’s practice sessions at Melbourne Park, Emma Raducanu’s movement got better, but a match would be the only setting in which her condition would truly be revealed.
“Over the past week, everything I’ve done has been highly controlled. Because of the unpredictable nature and the fact that I had to get used to it at first, I wanted to try it out in a real game. It was satisfying, she said.
“You are aware of it, and if anything, it releases some of the burdens.
“That’s because, like, I’ve done so well to get myself into the floor, and my team has done so well, and you’re doing so poorly. We are all quite proud of this accomplishment.
Raducanu appeared hesitant at first when she stretched to the backhand side and had to put weight on the injured foot while still having to strap on the ankle.
Before Raducanu started to gain confidence, the pair exchanged five breaks of serve after a dismal performance filled with unforced errors.
The 27-year-old Korpatsch, who is ranked one spot higher than Raducanu but does not share the same background, was playing in her first Australian Open main-draw match.
A match point was presented after the German double-faulted; Raducanu converted it after Korpatsch’s long forehand. The German, who prefers playing on clay, seemed uneasy the entire time.
A much stiffer test awaits Raducanu when she plays Gauff on Wednesday, but she was beaming with joy as she spun around the court in celebration.
The hard effort we put in to get here, Raducanu reasoned, “I might as well just enjoy it.”
If anything, it’s more physical and playing about to see how it goes than it is mental.