Stuttgart | Raducanu sets up Last 8 meeting with Swiatek

Britain’s Emma Raducanu set up a quarter-final contest with World No 1 Iga Swiatek at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Wednesday, riding the momentum she began rolling at the BJK Cup last weekend with an impressive 6-0 7-5 win over Linda Noskova at the WTA 500 indoor clay-court tournament in Stuttgart.

Well, she [Emma Raducanu] seems like she's getting her game back together, so it's great to see that, because, for sure, she has potential. Yeah, well, it's not going to be easy. She knows how to spin the ball and how to move on clay, as well. I wouldn't expect an easy match. Iga Swiatek

Wearing Team GB’s lucky bracelet, the 2021 US Open champion is now on a 5-match winning streak, having led side to a stunning win over France, where she rallied from a set down against Caroline Garcia and Diane Parry to send her nation into the Finals.

The team’s ‘friendship bracelets’ appeared on X when Harriet Dart shared a snap featuring each member’s nickname: ‘Hazza’ for Dart, ‘Hev’ for Heather Watson, ‘Radders’ for Raducanu, ‘Fran’ for Francesca Jones, ‘Boults’ for Katie Boulter and ‘Annie K’ for Team GB Captain Anne Keothevong.

Raducanu, who arrived in Stuttgart as a wild-card entry, is still sporting her own bracelet on her wrist, and dropped just 3 games in her 1st-round match against fellow Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, seeing off the German, 6-2 6-1.

Four of her matches in her current streak now have been won on clay, a fact that doesn’t surprise Raducanu.

“I think it’s, one, low expectations,” Raducanu said of her success on the surface. “You go out there, you’re, like, OK, we have, like two, three clay courts in Great Britain that we can use, and practice on it for two weeks. ‘Hey, let’s give it a go’!

“It’s a combination of that, but it’s also, I think, since a young age, I always love moving on this surface. I love sliding. I feel like I’m pretty good at sliding on both legs, which is a strength.”

Raducanu has been putting in the hard yards coming back from her season-ending surgery last year, and the 21-year-old is stronger than she has ever been, and, with that, comes self-belief and improved rally discipline.

“I think the fitter I get, and the more clean my technique gets, the more I’m able to, kind of, stay in the longer points, and generate from further back, whereas I feel, maybe, before I was having to hug the baseline, play a hard court game on clay as well,” Raducanu added. “It works sometimes, but it doesn’t always work.

“I feel, like, I’m developing more versatility in the way I play. I can adjust. I can adapt. That’s a big strength, because certain things, you get into a match, and they don’t work from the initial plan, so you have to change something. You can completely switch the dynamics of a match sometimes.”

Emma Raducanu is on a 5-match winning streak, the last 4 matches coming on clay

She stayed true to her current fine form on Thursday with her dominant win over Noskova, the 19-year old talented Czech who had only dropped 4 games in her opening upset win over Jelena Ostapenko, the Latvian 8th seed.

Raducanu raced through the opening set in just 29 minutes, saving 2 early break points on the way, when, after losing the first 7 games, Noskova eventually managed to hold serve herself to get on the scoreboard and level the second set at 1-1.

Despite now holding onto her serve, the Australian Open quarter-finalist rarely troubled Raducanu’s service games, and the Briton struck the decisive blow at 6-5 to wrap up the contest.

Raducanu had dominated on return, collected a bagel in the process, and did not face a single break point on her way to the straight sets win after just 79 minutes.

“I must say I’m not too surprised, because I’ve been working really hard on the training court and I knew it was a matter of time,” Raducanu told Andrea Petkovic during their on-court interview. “Honestly, I don’t think this is my best. I think I still have a long way to go.

“I’m just really happy that the rewards are starting to come on the match court. Because you know how it is, when you’re training, day in and day out, and the results aren’t exactly going your way. But it’s never that far away, I guess.

“That’s something that I’ve been learning. Just doing the right things every single day, and then things happen, and you don’t know how or why.”

Raducanu had dropped to No 303 in the world entering Stuttgart after her injury-hit 2023 season, in which she endured both wrists and ankle surgery, but she is now on the rise again, reaching 221 in the live rankings by making the Last 8 here.

Childhood coach Nick Cavaday began working again with Emma Raducanu in Australia in January

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

She attributes her consistent level across 2024, even when she has lost, to the guidance of her coach, Nick Cavaday, whom she has known since she was a child.

Originally from South London, Cavaday played for North Carolina State University, amassing a 74-56 singles record, and 74-53 doubles record, while studying for a degree in psychology.

Once his collegiate career was over, he played regularly on the ITF Tour and reached a career-high of 1022 in the ATP Rankings, with his last match coming in 2010.

After calling time on his playing career, Cavaday became heavily involved with the LTA, and first worked with Raducanu as Head Coach at the LTA High Performance Centre in Bromley, where she spent countless hours training at the centre as a junior.

It comes as no surprise that 37-year-old Cavaday is someone she feels she can rely on, and trusts.

“I feel very comfortable working with him. I have known him since I was a young age, so he’s someone who I feel like I can trust, and that’s a big thing for me,” she said, following her opening win in Stuttgart. “Just having people who I know before I got famous, or I got any of the big whatever [was] coming my way, it was just good to have someone who’s known me before that.

“You know that their intentions are good, and they didn’t just come after the win and when everything is easy to just come and join.

“It’s a nice feeling. He knows pretty well how I operate. I would say I haven’t changed at all since I was eight or nine. But everything around me has changed, but it’s mentally I feel, like, I’m the exact same person.”

Top seed Swiatek now awaits in the quarter-finals, with Raducanu trailing 0-2 in their head-to-head record, while she has not won a set against the 22-year old Pole, including a 6-4 6-4 defeat when they met in Stuttgart back in 2022.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek swept past Elise Mertens in Stuttgart and the defending champion has yet to lose a match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Swiatek swept past Belgium’s Elise Mertens, 6-3 6-4, on Thursday to reach the quarters, and the 2-time defending champion has yet to lose a match in Stuttgart.

“I’m really happy with the way I played,” Swiatek told the press. “First match on clay, so it’s always tricky. Elise was really good. Sometimes at defence I had to be patient, and really work for the points. So I’m happy with the way I handled it.

“That’s one of the things you have to switch from hard court, you have to be ready for longer rallies, and for players to be able to get back more.

“And also, I can use that. I can also get back more balls. So it works both ways, but you have to switch that mindset, to be more patient.”

Mertens has 7 wins over Top 5 opposition to her name, but, surprisingly, this was her first meeting with Swiatek in singles.

The Pole saved 5 of 7 break points while going 4-for-6 in breaking Mertens, using her powerful groundstrokes to propel herself to a dominant 5-1 lead in the first set, laser-focused on keeping her Stuttgart winning streak alive.

Mertens then got a handle on her returns, making a late charge to 5-3, and when Swiatek fell 0-30 down in her next service game, the Belgian hoped to get back on serve, but the top seed blasted her way to 4 straight points and clinched the one-set lead after a Mertens backhand flew long.

An early exchange of breaks began the second, before an ill-timed double-fault by Mertens handed a break to move the Pole 4-3 ahead, and, at 5-4, incredible defence by the Belgian helped her withstand Swiatek’s first 3 match points, before a crunching a forehand winner convert Swiatek’s 4th chance, and the World No 1 sailed into the quarter-finals.

Later, Swiatek was stunned when asked if she could ‘take over’ women’s tennis as a dominant figure in the future.

“Well, the question is if I already did that for past two years, because I feel, like, I have been pretty dominant, and also Aryna has been, so we both, kind of, have shown that there is consistency on WTA,” she responded archly. “I remember when I was playing in 2020, 2021, I also got many questions about consistency, and I felt like some players, you know, have proven that it’s possible. So I already feel like I have been pretty dominant.

“But we’ll see what next years are going to bring. There have been players that have been dominating throughout their whole careers, you know, and I’m still at the beginning. So there is still so much work to do.”

Heading into the match against Raducanu, Swiatek spoke highly of the Briton’s potential and said she would not take the former World No 10 for granted.

“Well, she seems like she’s getting her game back together, so it’s great to see that, because, for sure, she has potential,” Swiatek said of facing Raducanu. “Yeah, well, it’s not going to be easy. She knows how to spin the ball and how to move on clay, as well. I wouldn’t expect an easy match.”

Elena Ryabkina battled her way into the quarter-finals with a roller coaster win over Veronika Kudermetova

In the last match of the day, Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk saved 5 match points in the 10th game of the 3rd set while rallying to vanquish Chinese 5th seed Zheng Qinwen, 6-2 4-6 7-5.

Earlier, Italy’s Jasmine Paolini upset No 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 7-6(8) 6-4, while No 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan and No 6 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic also both advanced.

World No 4 Rybakina battled her way into the quarter-finals in a roller coaster 7-6(3) 1-6 6-4 win over Russian Veronika Kudermetova after 2 hours and 33 minutes.

The Kazakh managed to stave off 3 break points toward the end of the opening set, and then took control of the tiebreak, but her errors mounted in the second as Kudermetova began to dominate.

Rybakina regained control in the decider, and surged to 4-1 before more errors allowed Kudermetova to level, but the Kazakh rallied again to take a tight service hold, and closed out the match.

She will face Jasmine Paolini after the Italian upset seventh-seeded Ons Jabeur 7-6 (8), 6-4.

Vondrousova, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 6th seed, had an easier passage, the Czech defeating another Russian, Anastasia Potapova, 7-6(5) 6-1, after 77 minutes, to line up 2nd-seeded Aryna Sabalenka next.



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