Emma Raducanu saw her sets-won streak at majors snapped at 21, but hung on to win in her Australian Open debut.
Raducanu, who at the U.S. Open became the first qualifier to win a major, beat 2017 U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 to make the second round in Melbourne.
Raducanu rolled Stephens in a 17-minute first set, dropping just four points. She was broken three times in the second set before prevailing in the first three-set Grand Slam match of her career.
“2022 is all about learning for me,” Raducanu, 19, said. “Winning a set and then having to fight in a decider is definitely just all just accumulating into a bank of experience that I can tap into later on down the line.”
Last summer, the Brit Raducanu won all 20 sets between qualifying and the main draw en route to the U.S. Open title in just her second Grand Slam main draw. Raducanu then changed coaches and went 2-4 in six matches between the U.S. Open and Australian Open, the most recent a 6-0, 6-1 defeat to Elena Rybakina last week.
She gets 98th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in round two and could face Simona Halep, a French Open and Wimbledon champion, in the third round.
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez lost her Australian Open first-round match. Maddison Inglis, the 133rd-ranked Australian, upset the Canadian 6-4, 6-2.
“We had a good preseason. We worked hard. We improved my tennis game,” said Fernandez, who had eight winners to 30 unforced errors. “Unfortunately it did not show today.”
Also Tuesday, Andy Murray took out No. 21 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in Murray’s first Australian Open match since a premature retirement tribute at the tournament in 2019.
No. 8 seed Casper Ruud withdrew with an ankle injury before his first-round match, opening up Murray’s section of the draw. Murray gets 120th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan next and potentially 11th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner in the third round.
The men’s and women’s No. 2 seeds had different days.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the favorite after Novak Djokovic was deported, swept Swiss Henri Laaksonen 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (3) to reach a second-round date with Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who struggled serving leading into the tournament, had 12 double faults in her first round but still rallied past 128th-ranked Australian Storm Sanders 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
Major champions Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova were bounced from the women’s draw.
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