The positive momentum established by Emma Raducanu in recent weeks appears to be growing steadily. In the second showdown of a budding generational rivalry, Raducanu produced her best performance since the US Open by eviscerating her fellow 19-year-old Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-1 to reach the third round of the Madrid Open.
The victory marks just the second time that Raducanu has won consecutive matches this season, which she has achieved in successive tournaments in her first professional forays on clay. “I’m definitely very happy with my performance,” she said. “Marta’s a great opponent, we’ve played several times in the juniors and once last year. I knew it was always going to be a really tough battle so I went out there trying to be really aggressive and it definitely paid off.”
Unlike in her gritty opening win, Raducanu opened her second match at ease. Her ball striking was pristine as she punished Kostyuk’s serve, took the ball early, effortlessly changed direction and commanded the baseline with her brand of controlled aggression. Raducanu broke serve in the opening game of the match and, as the contest endured, she continued to effectively adapt details of her game on the clay, throwing in loopy balls and acute angles while also peppering Kostyuk with increasingly confident drop shots.
While Raducanu frequently struggled to maintain her level for consecutive sets earlier this season, she imposed constant pressure on Kostyuk, who flailed and took greater risks in search of a turning point. As her opponent’s errors consequently flowed, Raducanu completed a brilliant victory. Just a few years ago Kostyuk was by far the best player of their age group as juniors and Raducanu was not even close, but Raducanu has forged ahead as a professional and on Sunday she demonstrated why. In the third round, she will face another Ukrainian, Anhelina Kalinina, after she upset an out of sorts Garbiñe Muguruza 6-3, 6-0.
Earlier in the day, the 20-year-old Briton Jack Draper won his debut ATP match on clay, defeating Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-4, 6-3. Dan Evans also won his first round, beating Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4.
Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, described himself as “heartbroken” over the jailing of his former coach, Boris Becker, on charges of hiding assets. “He’s a long-time friend, a coach for three, four years, someone I consider close in my life and has contributed a lot to my success in my career,” Djokovic said. “I was just heartbroken.”