Washington | Raducanu makes a winning start

British No 1 Emma Raducanu got her hard-court season under way with a 6-4 6-2 win over American qualifier Louisa Chirico at the Citi Open in Washington, DC, on Tuesday night, her first step towards defending her US Open title at the end of the month.

I think playing any first round is always pretty challenging. Then, when you're not necessarily that match-sharp, small things you don't necessarily get right. It's just important to stay calm. Emma Raducanu

The 19-year old, who played her last match at Wimbledon, where she lost to France’s Caroline Garcia in the 2nd-round, defeated Chirico, ranked 216 in the world, after an hour and 27 minutes.

The American contributed 8 double-faults to Raducanu’s cause, and fired just one ace, while the No 2 seed produced 3 aces with no double-faults.

“Definitely feels really good to get a win here in DC,” Raducanu said in her post-match press conference. “And after not playing for quite a bit after Wimbledon, or many matches at all this year, I think it’s a really nice feeling just to get on the board.

“I think playing any first round is always pretty challenging. Then, when you’re not necessarily that match-sharp, small things you don’t necessarily get right. It’s just important to stay calm.”

The World No 10 won an impressive 76 percent of points behind both her first and second serves, and lost her serve just once in the match, while she also converted 4 of her 10 break point opportunities.

Chirico had 5 more winners, though, but the qualifier was unglued by 42 unforced errors, more than double Raducanu’s 18.

Raducanu was a point away from a 3-0, double-break lead in the opening set, but Chirico put a volley winner away to erase that chance, and the American used her all-court play to eventually pull back to level at 3-3.

Strong returning allowed Raducanu to reclaim her break advantage at 5-4, and the 19-year-old then swept through a love service hold to consolidate and clinch the opening set.

In the second, she converted a 3rd break point in the 2-2 game to move ahead, and was untroubled from there on in, collecting the final 5 games of the match, with Raducanu’s last 3 service games of the affair were holds to love.

Camila Osorio dispatched Sofia Kenin, who was playing her first match since March, in Washington and will play Emma Raducanu next

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Raducanu will now have her first meeting with Camila Osorio in the 2nd-round, after the Colombian snapped a 5-match losing streak earlier on Tuesday by knocking out former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Osorio collected her first win since Roland Garros with 7-6(2) 6-1 win over the American, who is coming back from injury and contesting her first singles match since Indian Wells in March.

Kenin fought back from 2-5 down to push the opening set into a tiebreak, but Osorio regrouped to win the breaker, and eased then through the second set from there.

Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic earned her first win in 7 tries against Sloane Stephens, prevailing against the American, 6-1 6-4, in 68 minutes to collect her first victory over the 2017 US Open champion.

“It got a little tricky at the end,” Tomljanovic said. “I definitely thought about the fact that I haven’t beaten her so far and been close a few times, so I got nervous and played a few loose games, but just very pleased to close it out in the end.”

Tomljanovic, who reached her second consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final last month, converted 5 of her 8 break points to notch up the win, while Stephens, who won her first WTA singles title at the 2015 Citi Open, was undone by 25 unforced errors.

Victoria Azarenka advanced to round 2 by sweeping past Dayana Yastremska at Rock Creek Tennis Center on Tuesday

© Rob Carr/Getty Images

Former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka made her successful Washington debut, sweeping past Dayana Yastremska from Ukraine, 6-4 6-0, in an hour 27 minutes to reach the 2nd-round, where the Belarusian will take on Czech Tereza Martincova, who outlasted Wang Xinyu from China, 0-6 6-4 6-4.

Azarenka, who won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013, claimed 60 percent of points returning serve to level her head-to-head record against Yastremska at 1-1, winning the last 8 games of the contest after two months out of action.

Afterwards, Azarenka again hit out at the ban that precluded Russian and Belarusian players from participating at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

After playing at Roland Garros, she opted out of playing any of the grass-court swing leading up to Wimbledon, where she is a two-time semi-finalist, and admitted she still felt connected to the sport in spite of her physical absence.

“I’m on the Player Council, so I can’t completely cut myself off,” 33-year old Azarenka told TENNIS.com after her win over Yastremska. “I take that part of my job very seriously.

“I think what people missed here was a big opportunity to show how sports can unite. I think we missed that opportunity, but I hope we can still show it.

“I love to find solutions from difficult situations. I think what was hard was the absolute ignorance and carelessness from the other parties.

“I think that was a tough part to digest, because you’re coming in with options, opportunities, and your heart, and it’s met with basically a ‘We don’t care’.”

Yastremska, who was personally affected by the invasion into Ukraine and ultimately sought refuge in France with her mother and sister, spoke about the ban at Wimbledon, and the 22-year-old, unsurprisingly, was in agreement with keeping Russian and Belarusian athletes out of elite sport indefinitely.

“If, in other sports, the Russian and Belarus are out of competitions, I think in tennis it has to be the same,” she said in July, taking issue with the ATP and WTA tour’s response in stripping Wimbledon of its ranking points.

“More players are talking about why Russian and Belarusian players are out from the tournament than they talk about the Ukraine.

“So it’s very tough to say what players are supporting to these athletes from Russia and Belarus to play at Wimbledon or they support Ukraine.”

Ajla Tomljanovic beat Sloane Stephens for the first time in 7 attempts to make round 2 in Washington

© Rob Carr/Getty Images

In other day matches, former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic from Germany dispatched Denmark’s 8th-seeded teenager Clara Tauson, 6-2 6-2, in 69 minutes to set up a meeting with Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino, who upset Venus Williams on Monday.

Petkovic, a Citi Open finalist in 2013, was a perfect 6-for-6 on break points.

Also, Russian Anna Kalinskaya, a semi-finalist at the most recent Citi Open in 2019, cruised past America’s Madison Brengle, 6-3 6-0, in 71 minutes, and she next faces 3rd-seeded Simona Halep from Romania in round 2, while lucky loser Wang Xiyu from China ousted recent Wimbledon semi-finalist Tatjana Maria from Germany, 6-2 7-5, to set up a meeting with Croatia’s Donna Vekic.



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