Emma Raducanu eases past Sloane Stephens on Eastbourne grass

LONDON – Emma Raducanu brushed aside Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-0 to advance to the second round of the Eastbourne International on June 25, in a battle between former US Open champions.

British number one Katie Boulter, who defeated compatriot Raducanu on the way to retaining her Nottingham Open title in June, overcame Croatia’s Petra Martic 6-1, 7-6 (10/8).

Raducanu recovered from being broken twice in the first set before demolishing her opponent in the second set to set up a second-round match against world number five Jessica Pegula.

Raducanu, who won the US Open as a qualifier in 2021, has slipped to 168th in the world after an injury-plagued 2023 season.

The 21-year-old missed the French Open but returned to competition in Nottingham earlier in June, where she reached the semi-finals.

“I think for me it was the case of adapting to the court,” said Raducanu, who has been given a wild card for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.

“I’ve never played in Eastbourne, I’ve never played on this centre court and every court plays a little bit differently. In the beginning, I was trying to figure out what was the best way for me to play and use my game.”

Stephens, who won the US Open in 2017, broke first for a 3-2 lead but failed to hold serve for the rest of the match.

Raducanu, after saving two break points to hold for 5-4, broke the American for a third time to seal the first set and then sprinted to the finish line, completing victory in 76 minutes.

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