Seoul | Raducanu and Ostapenko headline Korea Open

British No 1 Emma Raducanu is in Seoul for the WTA 250 tournament this week, where she is seeded 6th for the Hana Bank Korea Open title, which is headlined by top seeds are Jelena Ostapenko and Ekaterina Alexandrova, both of whom are in action on Tuesday.

I would, obviously, love to win a title and, to be honest, I think that it doesn't matter at what level. I think, now, just playing a lot of matches is something that I could really benefit from. I know that I was meant to go through the development year at some stage, and I completely skipped it last year, so I know that I need to do the hard yards now. And it's sort of payback for winning the U.S. Open with very little practice or work. Emma Raducanu

Ostapenko, the World No 15 from Latvia, won the 2017 French Open and reached a career-high 5 after she made history by becoming the first Latvian player to win a Grand Slam singles title as well as the first unseeded woman to win Roland Garros since 1933.

Not only did she win her first Grand Slam that year but, 3 months later, added her 2nd WTA title in Seoul at the end of September after entering the Korea Open as the top seed.

“It’s always great to come here in Korea,” said Ostapenko, who has won a WTA title this year. “I will try to enjoy it as much as I can, and not put any expectations on myself because, that way, it’s a bit easier for me.

“I feel like my game is getting better and better and, I think, it’s just a matter of the time but, I think, I can play better.”

Ostapenko plays south Korean Boyoung Jeong in her opening match on Tuesday.

Alexandrova headlines the bottom half of the draw and the 2nd seed faces Asia Muhammad from the United States in the 1st-round, while 5th seed Varvara Gracheva is her projected quarter-final opponent, while she is expected to meet 4th seed Zhu Lin in the semi-final.


Defending champion Zhu Lin advanced to round 2 with a win over local Jang Su-jeong on Monday

© Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Monday’s play saw Zhu, the defending champion from China, advance to the 2nd-round with a 6-3 6-4 win over Su Jeong Jang of the Republic of Korea.

Zhu competed in the 2021 Korea Open as the No 2 seed and defeated top seed Kristina Mladenovic of France in two straight sets, 6-0 6-4, to win her first-ever women’s singles WTA Challenger title.

Kimberly Birrell outlasted fellow Australian Priscilla Hon, 6-4 4-6 6-4, while Switzerland’s Lulu Sun got past another Aussie, Lizette Cabrera, 7-6(6) 6-2, and Na-Lae Han eliminated fellow Korean Dayeon Back, 6-1 6-1.


Emma Raducanu suffered another injury last week in Portoroz and still has her thigh strapped for practice in Seoul

© Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Raducanu, who now sits at 77 in the rankings, faces Moyuka Uchijima, ranked 126 from Japan, on Wednesday and, if all goes according to plan, she could meet teenage sensation Linda Fruhvirtova in the 2nd-round, who won her maiden title in Chennai on Sunday.

The 17-year-old Fruhvirtova, who will face Belgian veteran Yanina Wickmayer first up, defeated 3rd-seeded Magda Linette from Poland in 3 sets to lift the Chennai Open trophy.

Interestingly, the winner could face Linette, also the 3rd seed in Korea, in the quarter-final.

19-year old Raducanu, meanwhile, has struggled to put together a decent run of form since her remarkable US Open victory last September and, so far, she has failed to win 3 matches in a row since lifting the trophy in New York.

After her title defence at Flushing Meadows ended in the 1st-round at the hands of wily Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet, Raducanu is looking to play more matches ahead of the new season in order to be in peak condition and to find some consistency.

She made her Slovenia Open debut last week, winning her opener before falling in the 2nd-round against World No 213 Anna-Lena Friedsam from Germany.

“A part of me was definitely looking forward to having a fresh start, and I am viewing [the Korean Open] as setting up the next year as best as I can,” Raducanu said in her pre-event press conference at the weekend held at the Olympic Park Tennis Center. “I’m definitely really, really hungry to get back up at that level consistently, because I know I have it in me.

“I would, obviously, love to win a title and, to be honest, I think that it doesn’t matter at what level.

“I think, now, just playing a lot of matches is something that I could really benefit from.

“I know that I was meant to go through the development year at some stage, and I completely skipped it last year, so I know that I need to do the hard yards now.

“And it’s sort of payback for winning the U.S. Open with very little practice or work.”

Raducanu said she has been putting in a lot of work since her first-round elimination at this year’s US Open, ‘more hours than I’ve ever really trained before’.

“And that might leave me tired occasionally,” she added. “In some matches, I might feel it more than others, but I’m just going to commit to this to get fitter and stronger and, next year, I’m going to have a lot more tolerance to high intensities.”

British No 3 Katie Swan, who was a semi-finalist in Chennai but had to retire because of illness, is also in Korea and has landed in the top half of the draw where faces Chloe Paquet from France in her 1st-round match.

Seoul last hosted the WTA 250 tournament in 2019, with the 2020 edition cancelled due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the event downgraded to a second-tier, WTA 125 event last year.




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