Emma Raducanu produced one of her best displays in some time as she beat world No. 36 Marie Bouzkova in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Open.
The 2021 US Open champion saw her powerful groundstrokes click into gear as she came back from 4-2 down in the first set to win 10 of the next 11 games.
Raducanu finished with 23 winners to 16 unforced errors as she won 6-4 6-1 in 82 minutes.
“I think in the beginning I was just adjusting to the speed of the court,” said Raducanu.
“It was pretty quick and a lot more still that it had been for the week.
“Marie is a really tough opponent, I knew I was going to have to play so many balls. In the beginning I was missing a few of the finishing shots but I cleaned that up so I’m very happy about that.”
Raducanu will next face second seed Ons Jabeur.
Raducanu is 0-4 against top 10 players in her career, but if she hits as cleanly and aggressively as she did against Bouzkova she could trouble Jabeur, who has only won one match this year.
This is the third tournament in a row where Raducanu has reached the second round, having returned in January following wrist and ankle surgeries.
She took time to find her range against Bouzkova, with an error-strewn first service game seeing her fall 2-0 behind.
But Bouzkova was also misfiring and the first break of serve was followed by five more in a row.
Raducanu played an excellent game to break to love in the seventh game, hitting two winners and dragging Bouzkova all over the court.
That would be the pattern for the rest of the match as Raducanu stepped up the intensity on her groundstrokes.
She took the set with a big forehand and then quickly broke to lead 2-1 in the second set with a drilled backhand cross-court winner.
A forehand down the line sealed a love hold before Raducanu broke again as her power proved too much for Bouzkova to handle.
Raducanu finished in style as she stepped into a second serve and hit a backhand into the corner that Bouzkova couldn’t return.
Read the full article here