Emma Raducanu made a spectacular comeback to grand slam competition as she easily defeated Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round. The Australian Open’s grueling three-day opening round came to an end as the sun set on Melbourne Park.
Raducanu’s first grand slam victory in a year came after an eight-month absence following surgery on both hands and her ankle in April. This was a promising development as she aims to restore herself as one of the world’s finest players. Raducanu has won twice since making a comeback, the first being in Auckland during the first week of January.
Much has changed for both Raducanu and Rogers since their disastrous first encounter at the 2021 US Open, in which Rogers upset world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty to set up their match before Raducanu defeated Rogers 6-2, 6-1 en route to victory. While Raducanu’s procedures kept her out of action for eight months, Rogers had surgery last summer and hadn’t played since Wimbledon.
After withdrawing from her planned pre-tournament exhibitions, Raducanu’s appearance at the Australian Open had been met with initial doubt. However, by the end of the week, her multiple rigorous training sessions and the positive feedback she received from players who sparred with her highlighted Raducanu’s readiness.
Raducanu attempted to seize control of the exchanges right away by pushing herself inside the baseline, taking the ball early, and shifting direction off the forehand and backhand without any trouble at all. Raducanu settled in with two firm holds before reading Rogers’ serve, getting plenty of returns and moving within the baseline. She played a great return game to take the set and supported it with strong serving all the way to the end of the match.
After winning the first set, Raducanu relaxed and began to play freely, which allowed her to break Rogers’s will in the first game of the second set and maintain her momentum all the way to the finish. Raducanu not only hit the ball clean and early, but she also moved well, made timely drop drops, and her serve held up when it mattered most.
Raducanu clearly benefited from her draw, which allowed her to ease her way back into elite competition, as she was paired with one of the few players in the draw who had even less match experience and more rust than herself. More challenging examinations are ahead, beginning this Thursday with a rematch with China’s Wang Yafan. The No. 97 team upset Sorana Cirstea 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 earlier on Tuesday.