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‘Not that match sharp’: Emma Raducanu starts hard-court season with win

Emma Raducanu admitted it felt “really good” to chalk up her first win of the North American hard court season, beating Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-2 at the Citi Open in Washington.

The US Open champion started her DC debut slowly but came to terms with humid conditions and pulled out some impressive ground strokes on the way to victory in 87 minutes. Chirico, an American qualifier, came undone with 42 unforced errors to Raducanu’s 18, while the British world number 10 won 76 per cent of her first and second serves.

Raducanu, the second seed, broke Chirico’s serve to take a 3-2 lead in the second set and closed out the match from there. Raducanu, who will face Camila Osorio in the second round, was satisfied with her win.

“It definitely feels really good to get a win here in DC,” she said in her post-match press conference. “After not playing for quite a bit after Wimbledon or many matches at all this year, I think it’s a really nice feeling just to get on the board.

“I think playing any first round is always pretty challenging. Then when you’re not necessarily that match-sharp, small things you don’t necessarily get right. It’s just important to stay calm.”

Her next opponent, Osorio, was bundled out by Harriet Dart in the first round at the Rothesay Classic Birmingham in June, after the 67th-ranked Colombian defeated returning-from-injury former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in straight sets. Raducanu’s singles win came one day after after her professional doubles debut alongside fellow teenager Clara Tauson ended with a straight-sets loss in the US capital.

Raducanu plays a forehand
Raducanu is gearing up to defend her US Open title. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Earlier, Dan Evans secured his place in the third round with a straight-sets victory over fellow Briton Kyle Edmund. The 16th seed made short work of an opponent working his way back from a lengthy injury lay-off to win 6-1, 6-2 in a little more than an hour in Washington.

He will now face either Taylor Fritz or Alexei Popyrin in the next round while Edmund reflects on his return to singles action after 20 months out following three knee operations. Speaking on court afterwards, Evans said: “My focus was very good. I had a bit of a blip at the end, but I thought I didn’t do much wrong. He hit, I think, three winners.

“I’m just really happy to be going still. It’s always nice to start a new swing off with a win and it’s nice to be through to the third round.”

Evans took just 22 minutes to claim the first set for the loss of a single game as he capitalised on a series of errors by a rusty Edmund. He broke to 15 in the opening game and repeated the feat in the fifth and seventh, with unforced errors costing the former British No 1 dearly.

Edmund, 27, held serve with an ace to level the second set at 1-1, but again errors proved costly as Evans raced into a 4-1 lead with a near-faultless display. He broke again to serve for the match as Edmund’s first serve deserted him, but was pegged back immediately after his opponent produced a fine forehand return and then an exquisite drop shot to earn his chance. However, the respite proved temporary with Evans clinching victory in 62 minutes at the second time of asking.

Andrey Rublev, the top seed, eased through courtesy of a 6-4, 6-2 win over Briton Jack Draper. The 24-year-old had to remain patient in a tight first set as six break points came and went before he converted the seventh to take a 5-4 lead, and he duly obliged on serve to cement his advantage. A forehand error from the 20-year-old handed Rublev a second-set break and a 2-1 lead and, although he had to save two break points in the next game, he managed to see out a comfortable victory.

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