Emma Raducanu claims her first victory since US Open triumph last month by beating world No 124 Polona Hercog at the Transylvania Open… after British No 1 was given a scare by losing first set
- Emma Raducanu has won her first tennis match since her US Open victory
- The British No 1 beat world No 124 Polona Hercog at the Transylvania Open
- Raducanu lost the first set 6-4 after losing five games in succession
- But she responded valiantly to take a 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory in Cluj-Napoca
- Raducanu had to wait six weeks for her first win since her New York heroics
Emma Raducanu began filling in the gaps in her tennis education on Tuesday night when she came through a tough opener at the Transylvania Open.
Before charming an almost empty stadium by speaking in Romanian she defeated experienced Slovenian Polona Hercog 4-6 7-5 6-1 to make the second round, in which she will face Ana Bogdan. ‘It means a lot to play in my Dad’s country,’ she said after completing a win in two hours and 28 minutes.
This was an ideal contest for her, and incredibly the first time she has won a match on the tour at this level.
Emma Raducanu won her first match since her US Open triumph at the Transylvania Open
The British No 1 beat stubborn Slovenian Polona Hercog (above) who took the first set in Cluj
Raducanu started promisingly before the largely deserted stands forced upon this event by new Romanian government regulations.
She swept to a 4-1 lead after winning a sixth break point in a marathon second game of the match.
It was not long before the highly motivated Hercog was showing why she was once ranked 35 in the world, cutting out the errors and taking advantage of her opponent’s reducing level of confidence on the serve.
Raducanu struggled early on and lost the first set after losing five games in a row
Raducanu’s forehand was also becoming shaky and occasionally impetuous, and at 4-4 she shanked one badly wide to seal getting broken to love.
Steadying herself at the start of the second, the US Open champion forced three break points at 2-1 against the rangy Slovenian. As with Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Indian Wells she was playing well above her ranking of 124, but that is to be expected with Raducanu wearing her new target.
There was certainly nothing end-of-season about the determined Hercog, who had not beaten a top 100 player since Roland Garros.
But the 18-year-old recovered in stunning fashion to move into round two later this week
Raducanu looked in serious trouble when faced with a break point at 4-4 but played her way out of trouble with the help of an ace. There was more trouble at 5-5 and another break point but she survived with a low, skidding backhand.
She created a first set point in the next game, but could only send her backhand return of serve long. A double fault provided another one but she could not handle the angled drive of Hercog. On the third her opponent obliged by sending the ball long.
That seemed to deflate the Slovenian and pump up Raducanu, who powered ahead to 3-0 in the decider and comfortably held on from there to claim it on her fourth match point.