If there was a sense of the unknown when Emma Raducanu showed up on opening morning of the Australian Open with her left ankle tied, it didn’t last long. A convincing 6-3 6-2 win over Tamara Korpatsch not only raised questions about her fitness in bed, but also featured some early flashes of Raducanu fearlessly hitting the lines to suggest she’s in a good place in Melbourne too arrived. It sets up a first encounter with Coco Gauff in the second round, in what is a blockbuster clash of two teen stars.
Raducanu will be relieved to have made it through after her disrupted run-up to the first grand slam of the season, but apart from the tape around her left ankle, there was little evidence of the injury the 19-year-old sustained in Auckland just 11 days ago . Raducanu’s training had been limited since she rolled her ankle on the indoor courts at the ASB Classic, in what was a “freak injury”, and the only concern on opening Monday at Melbourne Park was a slight wobble on her right ankle midway through the second game. set.
Gauff, the seventh seed, will provide much more of a test than what Korpatsch amassed at 1573 Arena, but Raducanu has had few victories on the grand slam stage since sensationally winning the 2021 US Open, let alone a win who showed such an aggressive, confident and attacking approach. Raducanu bullied the second serve from 27-year-old Korpatsch, who had failed to win grand slams in three previous attempts and made her Australian Open debut, finishing the British No. 1 with 27 winners.
Despite their difference in years, Raducanu played as a grand slam champion would as he quickly dismissed a more inexperienced opponent. Raducanu moved well on her left ankle, getting into shots on both the forehand and backhand sides, especially when targeting Korpatsch’s second serve. The German won only 20 percent of her points on second serve and struggled to adapt to Raducanu’s forefoot play, especially in the shorter exchanges.
The reality of Raducanu’s difficult first full year on tour meant she came into the Australian Open unseeded, her ranking plummeting to 77 in the world after her first-round exit at the US Open last season. Korpatsch was one place ahead at 76, but had no weapons to harass Raducanu. Korpatsch managed to break a few times early on as Raducanu showed some brief signs of hesitation, but the game turned when the 19-year-old shrugged off a forehand error at 3-3 in the first set.
From there, Raducanu won six games in a row to take total control and sealed an impressive opening win in 85 minutes.
Gauff needed less time to sack Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-4 as last season’s French Open finalist continued her fine form with a confident performance. The 18-year-old is aiming for a first Grand Slam victory in 2023 and opened the season with seven consecutive victories, including the title at the ASB Classic.
Gauff and Raducanu have never played against each other, not even at the junior level, and their first career meeting will star in Wednesday’s action at Melbourne Park.