For the past 11 months, she’s made her first trip around the WTA Tour, every single time Emma Radukano Coming up on a tennis court she had to stand up to the greater experience of her opponents as well as the quality of their games. Her sparse competitive record meant that even opponents of her same age walked onto the court mentally and physically better prepared for the fight to come.
But on a wet, rainy evening at Court Simonne-Mathieu, Raducanu faced an entirely different scenario. For the first time in her career at the highest level even her French Open For the first time, she was the biggest and most experienced player on the field.
When faced with the picture of maturity in 17-year-old Czech Linda Noskova, who made her Grand Slam qualifier debut just a week ago and immediately won three rounds to reach her first major draw, Radokano delved deep into her delay, recovered from a set and collapsed to reach To the second round in Paris with a win 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 37 minutes.
It was an absolute battle. I have to say Linda plays some amazing tennis and she really got out of there shooting the ball,” Radocano said. “As soon as I dropped my ball speed, it was completely over me and it killed me from the end of the first set.”
Despite breaking the serve early in that first set, Raducanu was pretty passive from the start, choosing to disrupt Noskova with prolific loopers and elongation points rather than forcing herself from within the baseline.
Meanwhile, Noskova knew exactly what she wanted to do in the biggest moment of her young career thus far: attack. She grabbed the ball boldly early on with original timing, choked all short balls and every time there was a chance to take it with a favored backhand down the line, Noskova caught it without a doubt. In terms of style and daring, she was not all that different from the brave Radocano of last year before the blessing and burden of being a Grand Slam champion.
As the first set continued, Noskova’s confidence grew and culminated with a stunning tiebreak victory. She went on to break through the second set, breaking serve in a perfect rematch to take a 4-3 lead.
With the match reaching its most pivotal moment, Raducanu slowly began to approach the baseline, grabbing the ball early and responding to Noskova’s firing with some of her firepower. Under pressure from Raducanu for the first time, Noskova displayed more fouls. The brave group ended with a touch of magic as Raducanu grabbed it with a sweet winning shot.
With momentum on her side and Noskova’s high-octane attack with more frequent mistakes, Radocano moved quickly through the third set and entered the second round. Although Raducanu strongly preferred to win, she has shown her strength as well as her durability after several recent illnesses.
“I knew if I had some really tough moments in the second set, you might get to it,” said Radocano. “And I think in the third set I was definitely able to keep pushing. In the end I was more and more in control. I was very happy.
“Physically, I think I was really good there. It took the whole three sets. I was really good. I was also thinking that I would beat her in the competition.”
After a day off, Raducanu will face Aleksandra Sasnovich, ranked number 47 in the world, for a place in the third round.
Earlier on Monday, defending champion Barbora Krejkova was knocked out in the first round by young Frenchwoman Diane Barry, who lost 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 after going 2-0 up in the second set.
The second seed, Krizhikova, was competing in her first match since February after suffering an elbow injury.
“I think I just broke down physically, and it was hard because I didn’t play matches,” Krizhikova said. “Usually matches are different from training, and I tried to prepare in the best possible way. But, yes, it fell apart.”