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Emma Raducanu begins rankings climb as she returns to winning ways at Slovenia Open

Raducanu eases through as she hits the comeback trail British No 1 has slumped to 83 in the world but had too much for Yastremska Raducanu led 5-3 in the second set when her opponent retired

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Emma Raducanu serves in Slovenia – Amazon
  • Raducanu eases through as she hits the comeback trail

  • British No 1 has slumped to 83 in the world but had too much for Yastremska

  • Raducanu led 5-3 in the second set when her opponent retired

The contrast for Emma Raducanu could not have been greater. Twelve months ago the spotlight could not have been brighter, with photographers demanding her photo at the star-studded Met Gala in New York, 48 hours after winning the US Open.

On Monday night, Raducanu, now ranked 83rd in the world, was launching what she will hope is the start of her climb back up the rankings by defeating Dayana Yastremska at the Slovenia Open.

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After the defence of her grand slam title ended disappointingly in the first round, Raducanu remained in the US to practise with her coach Dmitry Tursunov and took a late wildcard into the WTA 250 event, in the coastal town of Portoroz.

It is one of the lower profile tournaments in the calendar and, in front of a sparse crowd, the British No 1 will be pleased to have come through her opening match without any major difficulty, winning 6-2 5-3 in 78 minutes after her opponent retired through injury.

The 19-year-old made an ideal start to the match, breaking Yastremska’s serve twice to lead 4-1 and although the Ukrainian retrieved one of the breaks back, Raducanu broke again and won the opening set 6-2 in 31 minutes.

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A double fault by the error-strewn Yastremska gifted Raducanu an early break in the second set and the Briton was two points from victory when the former world No 21 began feeling discomfort in her right wrist after framing a forehand out of play.

Play was stopped for Yastremska to receive treatment from the tournament physio and after a brief discussion, she opted to retire, handing Raducanu a much-needed win in strange circumstances.

“No one wants to win by retirement,” she said in her post-match interview. “Dayana’s an extremely ferocious competitor so I knew it was going to be a tough match going in. I’m really happy with the way I stayed in the point and was fighting the whole way through so I am happy to be in the next round.

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“I came here early and it has been really nice here. I think it is a beautiful place to have a tournament, amazing views, great sunsets, and the food is super fresh, so I’m loving my time here.”

Raducanu has won back-to-back matches on just four occasions this season but will be hopeful of reaching the quarter-finals when she plays the winner of American Elizabeth Mandlik and Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam in the second round.

Raducanu beats Yastremska, as it happened

08:12 PM

Raducanu speaks

“Nobody wins to win by retirement. She is a ferocious competitor. I fought hard to stay in the points. I am happy to be in the next round

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It has been really nice to be here. I came here early and it is a great place to have a tournament: I love the sunsets, and the food is super fresh.”

Well played Emma. That’ll do it for our blog. Thanks for following. Goodnight.

08:10 PM

Raducanu wins 6-2, 5-3 retired

Well done Emma.

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08:09 PM

Dayana Yastremska has retired from the match

Bit of a strange end to the match for Emma, who now allows herself a smile and a laugh. Her focus has been good.

08:06 PM

Game nine of second set

Strange incident second point of this match. Hitting a forehand, the racket seems to fly out of  Yastremska’s hand. She is telling the umpire she’s got some sort of wrist problem. Goes over to the umpire and says she needs the physio. She buries her face in a towel. She already has wrist strapping.

Raducanu sits down with a towel over her legs. But then decides she would be better keeping moving – the temperature has dropped there. Raducanu hits a few serves as her opponent gets some treatment.

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08:01 PM

Yastremska* 2-6, 3-5 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

Right then. This is the moment, for  Yastremska. Raducanu is serving at 30-40. And with Raducanu floundering at the back of the court, the Ukraine player tries a dodgy drop shot that flops sadly into the net. Good battling though from the Ukraine player keeps her in the game and it’s deuce.

Eventually wraps it up and needs just one more game now.

07:56 PM

Yastremska 2-6, 3-4 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Good hold from Yastremska.

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07:51 PM

Yastremska* 2-6, 2-4 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

With her first ace of the match, Raducanu wraps up game six of this set.

07:47 PM

Yastremska 2-6, 2-3 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Raducanu looks like she means business. Focus is good, level has been consistent. Opponent looks less sure of herself, looking around the arena. ER makes the Ukraine player work hard for the hold, but hold she does.

A break and a set up. Hana Mandlíková’s daughter may await in the next round. Elizabeth Mandlik.

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07:35 PM

Yastremska* 2-6, 1-3 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

It is my sad duty to report that the DJ is playing a Hi-NRG version of Dancing In The Moonlight. The climate apocalypse cannot come soon enough, can it?

Emma is off the chair like a shot and raring to go here. Makes a solid start to this service game. The wide serve from the deuce caught is impressive. Yas, who looks to me like she could be a player on her day, wallops a thunderous backhand return winner and has given ER the runaround on the next point as well. A break point. Well saved by ER with a super backhand that sets up an easy winner.

Back to deuce. Two poor service returns – the second of them a yard wide – hand Emma Raducanu the game.

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07:33 PM

Yastremska 2-6, 1-2 Raducanu* (* denotes next server) 

First bit of spice for the umpire to negotiate. At 40-40, a ball desperately close to the line…. the call goes the way of ER and she now has a break point. The Ukraine player goes over to the umpire to make her case but he won’t have it.

Yastremska, who now has a cob on, serves up a dispiriting double fault and that’s another break, sorry to say.

07:28 PM

Yastremska* 2-6, 1-1 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

Yastremska with two spicy winners here, evening things up at 30-30. Radders hangs tough in the next rally and shouts ‘come on!’ as she win a hard fought, hard hitting rally. Both of these players look to have plenty of tools but not a lot of confidence. Raducanu holds.

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07:23 PM

Yastremska 2-6, 1-0 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Yastremska has now lost 15 sets in a row. 31 minutes that last set. Still, a decent start to this one, and she’s on the board without much fuss.

07:19 PM

First set to Emma Raducanu

61 percent first serve. Two double faults for ER. She won 81 percent of points on her first serve.

For the opponent, just 50 percent of the first serves finding the mark. And those three doubles hurt her.

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What can she do, serving now at the start of the second set?

07:18 PM

Yastremska* 2-6 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

Radders has the set at her mercy at 30-0. Can she wrap this up? Nice wide serve and Yastremska  is not getting that one back. At 40-0, it’s three set points. Yep, solid service game this and she’s taken care of business 6-2.

07:14 PM

Yastremska 2-5 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Quality is mixed to say the least. With a double fault adding to her woes, the Ukrainian is soon in a pickle and she she hits a backhand well out, Raducanu’s two break advantage is soon restored. Another service break.

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07:11 PM

Yastremska* 2-4 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

The double break secured, Raducanu takes her foot off the gas, soon finds herself 40-15 down and loses the game. A break back.

07:05 PM

Yastremska 1-4 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Chance for a double break here at 30-40. But an excellent first serve sets the point up well for Yastremska and she saves. But not for long – it’s a double break.

07:01 PM

Yastremska* 1-3 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

Nice confident point from Raducanu. Moving well around the court, and wrapping it up with a hard accurate volley. She holds with confidence and no fuss.

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06:57 PM

Yastremska 1-2 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

At 40-0 it looks like the Ukraine player has got this wrapped. But a groundstroke that drifts just out, and a terribly bungled drop shot have opened the door. It’s deuce. First serve let. Now a serve into the net. But a mighty second serve at the Raducanu body win that point. But back to deuce now as Yas hits her groundball long.  And now she hits one into the net. Break point Emma Raducanu: and a double fault hands Emma the game. Break.

06:52 PM

Yastremska* 1-1 Raducanu (* denotes next server)

An efficient service hold from Raducanu, who wraps that up without her opponent getting a point.

06:50 PM

Yastremska 1-0 Raducanu* (* denotes next server)

Yastremska hits a big ball, and there’s an eye catching cross court bludgeon in here. But also she looks a little low on confidence, as befits someone who has lost seven straight. Double fault in there. But holds the serve to 30.

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06:45 PM

Powerful

Amazon commentator Candy Reid says that Yastremska has “enormous power off both wings.” Very good, the Amazon coverage I find. I mean, if you want to watch tennis, there’s certainly plenty of it on.

06:42 PM

Dmitry Tursunov

is Emma’s new coach. Cannot see him yet but sure he’s there.

06:41 PM

Raducanu

says she is happy the target is off her back, but nevertheless her ranking before today means she is the top seed.

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Raducanu wins the toss and will receive.

Yastremska has lost seven straight.

06:39 PM

The players are introduced

Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine is out first. Here’s Raducanu.

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06:38 PM

Build up

Looks a nice evening in Slovenia. I reckon there are maybe 50 spectators at the court. The DJ, ambitiously, is playing some rinsing EDM/techno bangers. The crowd are not losing it,

06:31 PM

Only 32 players

in this tournament incidentally so you’re only five wins away from glory.

06:19 PM

Haddad Maia

now serves for the second set and the match… and she has indeed put the Danish player away.

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Right then. Over to you, Emma.

06:12 PM

We might get to see a bit more of Haddad Maia

She is seeded two in this and Emma Raducanu is seeded one, so in theory they could meet in the final on September 18th.

06:06 PM

Raducanu not on court yet

Hello, if you are just joining us, Emma Raducanu is not on court yet at the Slovenian Open. First, we must have a conclusion to the match between Tauson of Denmark and  Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil. The latter is 4-2 up and serving.

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05:19 PM

Emma Raducanu on court shortly

Hello, and welcome to our live blog of Emma Raducanu’s first round match at the Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz tennis event, or the Slovenian Open as it is also known. Raducanu, who of course so brilliantly won the US Open in 2021, has struggled since and is today standing at number 83 in the world rankings. Can she stop the rot with a victory here in the first round over Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine?

Let’s check in on some recent Raducanu news while we wait for the players to come onto court at some time after 6pm.

Simon Briggs, the Telegraph’s tennis correspondent, advises that Emma now needs to put in the hard yards in the unglamorous events to build up experience, ranking points, court-craft and so on.  Emma Raducanu’s road to redemption cannot take any shortcuts, Simon writes. “A spell of treading the boards at lesser events would earn her the respect of her peers in the locker-room, who have hitherto treated her as an arriviste.”

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The question of her coaching and back-up team has been one that has come up a lot.

Emma Raducanu urged to find stability in her coaching set-up and stop ‘tinkering’

Raducanu says: “I want new experiences. It doesn’t really matter what it is. I think any player would be happy to win a tournament. I think it makes a massive difference no matter what the level is.”

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Perhaps some guidance or inspiration might be found from the following piece.

She and Andy Murray could team up in a new mixed-gender tournament.

And what of this evening’s opponent? Yastremska is 22, from Odesa, and is herself ranked number 89 in the rankings. She has been as high as 21 and has reached the fourth round at Wimbledon so clearly no mug. We will see if Emma can get the show back on the road against her from some time after 6pm UK time, which is the earliest they can get on the court.

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First, they must wait – as we all must – for the conclusion of the match between Clara Tauson of Denmark and Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is a six-foot Brazilian. The South American has won the first set and is 3-0 up in the second so hopefully that shouldn’t be too long.

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