Nottingham Open: Emma Raducanu overcomes late wobble to beat Ena Shibahara in straight sets

Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu overcame a rough end to commence her grass-court season with a triumph at the Nottingham Open, although she expressed discontent with a few of the calls made by the line judges.

After abstaining from participating in the French Open in order to concentrate on her physical wellbeing, the 21-year-old British player won her first game since April by defeating Ena Shibahara of Japan in a 6-1 6-4 victory.

Raducanu revealed that she experienced a situation where she felt she was competing against both Shibahara and Ana Carvalho, the umpire, making it seem like a 2v1 match.

The Nottingham tournament does not utilize electronic line-calling technology.

Raducanu made remarks one day after Harriet Dart, a fellow British player, disputed with the umpire multiple times due to her belief that the line calls were incorrect while she was losing to Katie Boulter.

Raducanu expressed that she had the sensation of playing against two people instead of just one on the court, which was an intense experience.

Sometimes, the situation seems uncertain and it could swing in either direction. Today, it felt like everyone was against me, but it's satisfying to know that I triumphed over both my opponent and the official.

Facing situations without any difficulty is tough, but it's a hurdle that everyone must overcome.

You might get lucky sometimes, perhaps it was an attempt to level up the game's intensity. The score was 6-1 and 5-1 when suddenly, on the first serve point at 5-3, a call was made that was truly unfair.

"It was a challenge I had to confront and surpass. I feel content with the mindset I developed right from the beginning and tackling the difficulties."

The LTA informed BBC Sport that their umpires have extensive training and are highly skilled.

The statement stated that in 2025, ATP Tour-Level events will be utilizing electronic line calling, just like all the other events in the tour. They clarified that the matter is still under discussion with the WTA during their tournament meetings.

On Tuesday, Raducanu played a match on grass after a long time of 713 days. She had to undergo surgeries on her wrist and ankle in 2023, which prevented her from participating in Wimbledon.

Raducanu played at the same venue where she had competed in her first WTA match in 2021, several months before her amazing victory at the US Open. She made her intentions clear from the start by winning against Shibahara in the first game.

Shibahara, who primarily plays doubles and claimed the mixed title at the 2022 French Open, engaged in her maiden singles match on grass at the Tour level. However, she was easily outperformed by Raducanu in the initial phases of the game.

Following a remarkable display of skill, the six-ranked player from Britain managed to fend off two scoring opportunities from their opponent. They then proceeded to win seven consecutive games to claim the first set and advance into the next. However, their winning streak was momentarily interrupted by a Shibahara hold, which they managed to overcome with an easy victory.

However, Raducanu's performance began to falter once she experienced a double break up and held a 5-1 advantage, coinciding with some adverse calls going against her.

While trying to win the match, she lost a game for the first time, and then Shibahara managed to win a game without losing any points for the second time.

On the third try, the Japanese competitor managed to break Raducanu once more, completely erasing her lead in the second set.

However, Shibahara's comeback ended there, and Raducanu secured her spot in the second round by successfully converting her initial match point while Shibahara was serving.

Next up for her is a match against Daria Snigur, as the Ukrainian player managed to defeat her fellow countrywoman and second seed Marta Kostyuk in a match that ended 6-3 6-3.

Raducanu stated that it had been several weeks since her last competitive match, leaving her uncertain of how it would unfold.

I believe that my initial motives were excellent.

Afterward, Fran Jones from Britain advanced to the second round along with Raducanu by defeating Caroline Dolehide, the eighth seed from the United States, with a score of 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Jones is set to compete against another American athlete, Ashlyn Krueger, in the next round.

Ons Jabeur, who is the highest-ranked female and holds the number ten spot in the world, dominated against Camila Osorio from Colombia with a score of 6-2 6-3. Her next match in the second round will be against Linda Fruhvirtova from the Czech Republic, who has qualified for this tournament.

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