Raducanu survives gruelling RG debut

US Open champion came back from a set and a break down to escape early upset against Noskova

Emma Raducanu, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Amélie Laurin/FFT
 - Simon Cambers

US Open champion Emma Raducanu produced a stirring comeback as she beat last year’s junior champion Linda Noskova 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 in a thrilling first-round encounter at Roland-Garros on Monday.

In a brilliant match between two teenagers playing in the main draw for the first time, Raducanu came from a set and a break down to clinch victory after two hours, 37  minutes -- only the second time she’s come from a set down to win a tour-level match.

The 17-year-old Noskova, who came through qualifying, hit 48 winners, 24 on her glorious backhand but Raducanu dug deep and eventually pulled away in the third set to book a clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a place in the third round.

Story of the match

Raducanu began well, breaking serve in the opening game and then holding for a 2-0 lead. Noskova looked a little nervous but the 17-year-old Czech soon settled into a rhythm, holding serve for the first time and breaking to level at 2-2.

With light rain making life difficult for both players, deep groundstrokes gave Raducanu another break for 4-2 but Noskova was putting the Briton under huge pressure and started to dominate the rallies, especially on her backhand down the line, which yielded numerous winners.

Both players held serve to force a tiebreak and Raducanu twice led by a mini-break before Noskova upped her game again, firing more backhand winners to reel off four straight points for the set.

Noskova looked set to run away with the match when she broke for 2-1 in the second set but Raducanu broke straight back, forcing a few more unforced errors from the racquet of the Czech. Noskova broke again to lead 4-3 but Raducanu was making more impact on return games and hit back immediately to make it 4-4 as the 17-year-old coughed up a rare backhand error.

Raducanu was now fist-pumping more and more and at 6-5, the teenager clinched the set at the fourth time of asking, the Czech failing to deal with a rare Raducanu drop shot.

The sun came out at the start of the third set and as Noskova started to miss more often, Raducanu made the first move, breaking serve to lead 3-1 thanks to a superb backhand return.

By now, the 19-year-old Briton was dominating the exchanges from the baseline and a second break gave her some insurance. She served out the match, clinching victory with a forehand winner, jumping in the air with joy.

Key stats

Noskova hit a sensational 48 winners, to the 24 of Raducanu. And even more impressively, the Czech hit 24 winners on her two-handed backhand. But Raducanu hit just 25 unforced errors to the 54 of Noskova and eventually, the mistakes made the difference.

Noskova and Raducanu are two of nine teenagers that started in the women's singles draw at Roland-Garros this year.

What the players said

“It was an absolute battle,” said Raducanu “I have to say Linda’s playing some amazing tennis. She really came out firing. As soon as I dropped my ball speed, she was killing me. It was really challenging to hold on, hold my serve and keep breaking back. I’m really proud of how I fought.

“I really have no expectations. I’m really happy to be competing here after Rome. I’m just looking forward to trying to stay as long as possible really.”

Emma Raducanu / Premier tour Roland-Garros 2022©Amélie Laurin / FFT