Monday, January 16, 2023

Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne

Emma Raducanu put injury worries behind her with victory over Tamara Korpatsch at the Australian Open to set up a second-round clash with Coco Gauff.

The British number one had the left ankle she rolled in Auckland 11 days ago taped up but grew in confidence through the match and eased to a 6-3 6-2 win after an hour and 25 minutes.

While it was undoubtedly a reason to celebrate, this was also a gentle lob of a draw, with German Korpatsch, ranked one place ahead of Raducanu at 76, inexperienced at this level and a lot more comfortable on clay than hard courts.

Seventh seed Gauff, who defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-4, will offer a significantly different challenge as she looks to emulate Raducanu by winning a slam.

Although she is more than a year younger than Raducanu, Gauff has already played for three and a half years on the main tour, climbing into the top 10 and establishing the sort of solid base her next opponent is still seeking.

Staying fit will be the number one priority for Raducanu this season and even she would probably have been unsure quite how her ankle would hold up under the stresses of a match after less than a week of practice.

Given a warm welcome on a packed mid-sized arena, Raducanu initially looked hesitant on serve and stretching out wide to her backhand.

Emma Raducanu clenches her fist
Emma Raducanu clenches her fist (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The crunch moment of the first set came in the seventh game after Raducanu had twice been pegged back from a break ahead.

The 20-year-old has taken an aggressive approach under new coach Sebastian Sachs and tried to seize the initiative on her forehand.

It paid off as she secured another break, clenching her fist in the direction of her team, and it was start of a run of six games in a row that put her in full control of the contest.

By now putting a lot more weight behind her backhand and looking confident in her game plan, Raducanu wrapped up victory when Korpatsch pushed a forehand long.

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