ZB

Tennis world can't believe 17-minute Aussie Open massacre

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jan 2022, 9:55am
Emma Raducanu of Britain reacts after winning a point against Sloane Stephens of the U.S. in their first round match at the Australian Open. (Photo / AP)
Emma Raducanu of Britain reacts after winning a point against Sloane Stephens of the U.S. in their first round match at the Australian Open. (Photo / AP)

Tennis world can't believe 17-minute Aussie Open massacre

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 Jan 2022, 9:55am

Emma Raducanu made a big statement in the opening round of the Australian Open. 

The US Open champion was last up on Margaret Court Arena at just before midnight local time but the Brit showed why she is the new superstar of the tennis world against Sloane Stephens. 

Playing the 28-year-old American who won the 2017 US Open in Stephens, Raducanu dominated her opening set in her first trip to the Australian Open in a remarkable performance. 

The first set was over in just 17 minutes and Stephens won just four games. 

It left the tennis world in shock. 

But Stephens was a former world No. 3 for a reason and bit back in the second set. 

The first game she earned a break on Raducanu's serve, but it took 14 minutes, almost longer than the entire first set. 

And it was the beginning of a monumental fightback as Stephens bounced back to win the second set 6-2. 

But in the most bizarre of matches, Raducanu fought back in the third set and took it out 6-1, although didn't believe it was as lopsided as it seemed. 

"Coming out in the first set, I thought I played some very good tennis with very little unforced errors, and then of course there was going to be some adversity and the long rallies, she was just edging through with her defence," she said on court post-match. 

"So I'm happy to have regrouped and again in the third set, again I don't really think the score reflected the level out there because I was really feeling it and focusing on getting every single ball in landing between the lines." 

Raducanu will play No. 98-ranked Danka Kovinic in the next round. 

The match brought Day 2 to a close, finishing minutes after men's fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas wrapped up the program on Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win over Mikael Ymer. 

Tsitsipas, a runner-up at the French Open and a semifinalist in Australia last year, will play Sebastian Baez in the next round. 

Kyrgios advances 

Nick Kyrgios says his recent bout of COVID-19 "hit me pretty hard." 

"I was training five hours a day, feeling extraordinary, and then it hit me and I was bedridden. Couldn't really breathe well. Coughing," the 26-year-old Australian said after a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over qualifier Liam Broady in the first round at Melbourne Park. "I was pretty bad. Like, for someone that you assume is in the peak of his physicality, I got hit pretty bad." 

This was Kyrgios' first match of 2022. He advanced to a meeting against No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev, the champion at the U.S. Open and runner-up at the Australian Open last year. 

Kyrgios, a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, pulled out of a tuneup tournament in Sydney on Jan. 10 after testing positive for COVID-19. 

"Anyone that's been through it, I hope honestly for the best. Obviously physically I don't feel 100%, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse," he said. "Like, everyone is dealing with that at the moment. The whole world is dealing with it. So I'm just going to take it day by day." 

First Aussie win since 2017 

Five-time finalist Andy Murray needed a tough five-setter over a player he beat last week to register his first win in an Australian Open match since 2017. 

Murray beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to move into the second round. 

Murray also fended off Basilashvili last week in a three-hour three setter on the way to the final in a Sydney tuneup event. 

In another tough five-setter, Maxime Cressy beat fellow American and 22nd-seeded John Isner 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4. 

- With AP