Emma Raducanu battles through Roland Garros opener in spirited comeback win over qualifier
Teen sensation Emma Raducanu overcame 17-year-old Czech qualifier Linda Noskova in an electric first-round encounter at Roland Garros.
In rainy conditions, the big-hitting teenagers produced one of the matches of the tournament so far, to the delight of the crowd out on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
Despite hitting half the number of winners as her younger opponent, Raducanu was ultimately the cleaner of the two players.
Noskova’s unforced error count mounted as the match progressed, allowing the Brit to seal victory in three sets.
Although both women were making their French Open main draw debut, it was Noskova with the greater experience on the Parisian clay.
The Czech won the junior event in 2021 and had come through three rounds of qualifying to set up the first-round clash.
And Noskova was quick to show off her clay-court credentials, twice fighting from a break down in the first set to take the opener in a tiebreak.
In the second set, the 17-year-old initially appeared to reap the rewards for her aggressive, high-risk approach to the match, twice going up a break to lead the US Open champion.
But the qualifier was unable to stay ahead, on both occasions gifting the break straight back to Raducanu with a series of unforced errors.
The best tennis of the match came in what would be the last game of the second set, with Noskova serving to force a tiebreak.
It was almost impossible to separate the two teenagers as they went toe-to-toe from the back of the court, pushing each other from side-to-side with their powerful groundstrokes.
But the consistency of Raducanu ultimately prevailed, as she weathered both the rain and the barrage of winners from her opponent’s racket to level the match at one-set-all with a perfectly executed backhand dropshot.
The world number 12 did not look back, breaking her younger opponent twice in the deciding set to claim a memorable (4)6-7 7-5 6-1 victory in 2 hours and 37 minutes.
“It was an absolute battle,” said Raducanu, speaking immediately after the match. “It was definitely really challenging in the second set to hold on and break back a couple of times. I’m really proud of the way I fought.”
Raducanu will now face world number 47 Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.
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