Former British No. 1 Emma Raducanu battled her way to an opening win against friend Elena-Gabriela Ruse in Auckland. In a tight opening set, the pair stood toe-to-toe, until Raducanu broke in the penultimate game and served out for a first set lead.
Ruse lifted her level in the first set after fending off three break points and took the initiative to break Raducanu for an early lead. The pair traded breaks but despite Raducanu breaking back to within touching distance of getting back on serve, Ruse broke to level the match.
The decider started competitively, but Raducanu stretched ahead with two breaks to lead 5-2 but lost her serve in the next game. Two match points came and went as Ruse held on, before breaking Raducanu to level. Raducanu broke once more, and finally sealed her first match win since March last year on her fourth match point.
Based on last year’s data, the pair are quite closely matched, and the reduced season for Raducanu shows up in the stats.
Playing Styles & Prediction
Svitolina’s own comeback after the birth of her first child was solid, winning the title in Strasbourg before clocking up a place in the quarter-final in the French Open and the semi-final at Wimbledon before closing her season after the US open quarter-final.
She eased past Caroline Wozniackiin straight sets and is generally regarded as one of the fittest players on the tour. She should be able to absorb Raducanu’s pace and will put that ankle to the test, as she will look to move the Brit around.
It is a tough second match, and Raducanu should use it to test her level against one of the world’s best ahead of the Australian Open, after gaining a spot in the main draw.
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