Emma Raducanu impresses in victory on Grand Slam return at Australian Open

British player posts convincing 6-3, 6-2 success over Shelby Rogers in Melbourne

As the sun set on Melbourne Park and its three-day opening round of play on Tuesday evening, Emma Raducanu marked her return to Grand Slam competition with a strong performance and an invaluable win as she convincingly defeated Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-2 to return to the second round of the Australian Open.

After an eight-month layoff after surgery on both of her hands and her ankle in April, Raducanu’s first Grand Slam victory in 12 months represented another positive step forward as she looks to reestablish herself among the best players in the world. Having returned to competition in Auckland in the first week of January, this is Raducanu’s second win of her comeback.

“I’m very happy to have come through that,” said Raducanu. “I think ...”

Since the significant first meeting between Raducanu and Rogers at the 2021 US Open, which Rogers set up with a career best win over Ashleigh Barty, the world No 1, then Raducanu dismantled Rogers 6-2, 6-1 en route to the title, so much has changed for both players. While Raducanu missed eight months due to her operations, Rogers also underwent surgery last summer and the American had not played since Wimbledon.


Raducanu’s appearance at the Australian Open had initially been surrounded by question marks after her withdrawal from her scheduled pre-tournament exhibitions but, by the end of the week, her numerous intense training sessions and high praise from players who sparred with her underlined that she was ready.

From the beginning, Raducanu looked to take control in the exchanges by forcing herself inside the baseline, taking the ball early while effortlessly changing directions off both forehand and backhand without issue.

After settling down with two tight holds, Raducanu began to read Rogers’s serve, landing ample returns and working her way inside the baseline. She took the decisive break of the set with an excellent return game, which she backed up by serving well until the end of the set.

With the first set secured, Raducanu opened her shoulders and played freely, breaking Rogers’s serve in the opening game of the second set and maintaining her momentum until the end. Alongside her clean, early ball-striking, Raducanu moved well, she slipped in well-timed drop shots and her serve was reliable in the decisive moments.

After closing out a solid, unspectacular performance with one final forehand winner, Raducanu celebrated with just a small, understated fistpump. She then devoted significant time to signing autographs around the court, offering a towel to a fan, Mark, who had been present throughout her US Open run in 2021.

Afterwards, Raducanu said that the experience she has gained from first-round matches over the past couple of years have taught her to take on a more even-keeled approach.

“I think what I realised is the difference between me potentially losing first round or doing really well at a tournament is honestly really, really slim,” she said. “It’s just in the way that I move, in the way that I do things physically. I think just not being so drastic, I would say, because I know it’s not far away at all, and I know the more I practice consistently, it will come up.”

A year ago, Raducanu won her first-round match on the same court – 1573 Arena. Asked to look back at how different she feels 12 months on, Raducanu revealed that along with the ankle sprain she suffered last year, she had a “huge cyst” removed from the foot.

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

Raducanu pointed to her current team set-up, particularly her current partnership with Nick Cavaday, one of her childhood coaches, as an example of the calm surrounding her.

“I just think setting things up how I really like. Just people around me, I think it’s pretty calm now. It’s nice to be with Nick. I’ve known him since I was a kid, feel very comfortable there. Just all aspects really of my life I feel like are calming down and settled. Obviously when you come back after eight months, have experienced three surgeries, you’re just really grateful to be able to move freely,” she said.

Having drawn one of the few players in the draw with even less match practice and more rust than herself, this was undoubtedly a helpful draw for Raducanu, allowing her to ease back into top-level competition. There will be tougher tests to come, starting with a second round meeting with Wang Yafan of China on Thursday. Earlier on Tuesday, the world No 97 defeated Sorana Cirstea 0-6, 7-5, 6-2. – Guardian