Emma Raducanu loses in battle which announced ‘the future of tennis’

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Emma Raducanu loses in battle which announced ‘the future of tennis’ – GETTY IMAGES

Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Emma Raducanu’s Australian Open campaign has come to an end, but not before a match which had the former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker saluting “the future of women’s tennis”.

This first meeting between 20-year-old Emma Raducanu and 18-year-old Coco Gauff on Rod Laver Arena was the sort of captivating occasion that could boost the WTA Tour out of its current slump. Another leading commentator, Channel Nine’s Rennae Stubbs, wrote that “I hope we see those two play each other for another decade at least!”

In the end, it was Gauff’s retrieving skills that made the difference, as she defended like Djokovic throughout the second-set tie-break. You had to feel for Raducanu, who kept firing the ball into the corners with her scudding groundstrokes, only for Gauff to stretch out a long arm and chip it back into play.

In a nervy finish, Gauff brought Raducanu forward with a drop shot, and then outwitted her with a crafty lob-volley, before erupting in a leaping celebration that revealed how much she wanted this win.

“We both started off rocky,” said Gauff in her on-court interview, “but I think the match was good quality for the most part. I imagine we were both nervous. This was a long anticipated match-up basically since the draw came out. I’m glad both of us handled the pressure pretty well.”

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown 'the future of tennis' - GETTY IMAGES

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown ‘the future of tennis’ – GETTY IMAGES

The statistics don’t look all that pretty on paper, with Gauff clocking up 41 unforced errors and Raducanu 42 – more than twice as many as their winner counts in both cases.

But then, it’s hard to hit winners when your opponent covers the court like spidercam. I can’t recall watching a match between two such mobile women. They seemed to float over the court, barely touching it with their sneakers. Yet the constant squeaks of rubber on acrylic betrayed the intensity of the footwork.

Another reason for the high unforced error count was the ambition on display. Both women were throwing haymaker after haymaker, in a determined effort to be the one shaping the pattern of the rallies.

This fitted with Gauff’s pre-match confession that she had spent a good chunk of her off-season learning to box. Admittedly, there was the odd point where Gauff switched to looping her forehand rather than hitting through it, but for the most part she was eager for the quick kill.

Wilander: ‘I think Gauff wanted it more’

Gauff was comfortably the bigger server, averaging 103mph on her first delivery to Raducanu’s 94, but it was Raducanu who had the more aggressive return. Had she been able to practise more thoroughly in the build-up to this event, rather than being disrupted by an ankle injury, she could have given the No7 seed an even bigger scare.

Raducanu rather gave away the first set with a spray of forehand errors that allowed Gauff to break for 4-2. It seemed as though she might go quietly when she was broken again early in the second set, donating a couple of sloppy double-faults. She also seemed to be feeling out her side or stomach as if she was in pain. Still, rather than capitulating, she squared her shoulders and began playing with greater accuracy.

For much of that second set, Raducanu was the one forcing the pace. She even had a couple of set points when Gauff served at 4-5. Again, though, Gauff went into defensive lockdown mode, and it was Raducanu who missed – first with a backhand drive and then a drop-shot that just caught the net-tape. Such is Gauff’s extraordinary sprinting speed – which could probably have made her a track-and-field star had she so wished – that she would probably have made it to the ball anyway.

Instead, Gauff completed her 6-3, 7-6 victory, and thus became the first woman to chalk up 100 WTA Tour wins before the age of 19 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. She might be younger than Raducanu but in tennis terms she is more experienced, having played almost 200 competitive matches at various levels to Raducanu’s 130-odd.

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown 'the future of tennis' - REUTERS

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown ‘the future of tennis’ – REUTERS

At least Raducanu can find encouragement in the pundits’ admiring comments. As the seven-time grand-slam champion Mats Wilander put it: “The potential is there to be a top-five player because of the technique, the ball-striking and the fighting spirit.

“But in the end, I think Gauff wanted it more and was a bit more comfortable not playing great, but still needing the win under her belt. She was the veteran here… how can that be? She’s only 18!”

“Emma has unbelievable ball-striking skills and great technique. That’s why she qualified and won the US Open; she has the ability she has,” former British No 1 Tim Henman added. “But you have to get the balance right between being aggressive and making unforced errors. There were 83 unforced errors between both players. Then it comes back not only to the mentality but the physicality of getting the ball into play and that’s where Coco has the advantage; she’s such a good athlete.

“More tournaments, more training, more durability under her belt. She was able to stay in and win the longer exchanges. This is another important learning curve for Emma, playing in this environment against the top players. She can see the level. She was the one dictating a lot of these points, but she still has to build up the physicality to stay in the rallies longer and make sure she doesn’t make unforced errors. If she does that, she can win big matches.”

Emma Raducanu loses to Coco Gauff, as it happened

11:30 AM

Emma Raducanu says goodbye to another tournament

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown 'the future of tennis' - GETTY IMAGES

Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open in battle which shown ‘the future of tennis’ – GETTY IMAGES

11:04 AM

Key stats

  • 42 unforced errors for Raducanu, 41 for Gauff

  • 17 winners for Raducanu, 13 for Gauff

  • Fastest first serve: 176 (km/h) for Raducanu, 194 (km/h) for Gauff

  • 1st serve in: 61 per cent for Raducanu, 72 for Gauff

  • Break points: 2/10 for Raducanu, 3/7 for Raducanu

10:51 AM

Henman on Raducanu

Emma has unbelievable ball-striking skills and great technique. That’s why she qualified and won the US Open; she has the ability she has. But you have to get the balance right between being aggressive and making unforced errors. There were 83 unforced errors between both players. Then it comes back not only to the mentality but the physicality of getting the ball into play and that’s where Coco has the advantage; she’s such a good athlete.

More tournaments, more training, more durability under her belt. She was able to stay in and win the longer exchanges. This is another important learning curve for Emma, playing in this environment against the top players. She can see the level. She was the one dictating a lot of these points, but she still has to build up the physicality to stay in the rallies longer and make sure she doesn’t make unforced errors. If she does that, she can win big matches.

10:39 AM

Mats Wilander on Raducanu’s performance and prospects

[Raducanu] almost turned it around. She was struggling physically with something in her stomach, but we’ll hear about that I’m sure. She’s such a good ball-striker, and when you’re putting pressure on your opponent like that you’re bound to get some unforced errors from your opponent, and you’re going to make some unforced errors [yourself].

It’s difficult to say, but for Raducanu, the potential is there. Hold on, she’s already won a Grand Slam! The potential is there to be a top five player because of the technique, the ball-striking and the fighting spirit.

10:31 AM

Can she break her grand slam duck at the Australian Open?

10:23 AM

‘The future of women’s tennis’

Earlier in the match, Boris Becker said Raducanu vs Gauff was ‘probably the future of women’s tennis’.

Hard to disagree with that statement. Today should be the first of many matches between the two of them.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - GETTY IMAGES

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – GETTY IMAGES

10:17 AM

More reaction from Gauff

Kudos to Emma. I know she had a tough week in Auckland so it was good for her to play at this level after such a, I guess, scary moment.

10:13 AM

Latest reaction from Molly McElwee

10:10 AM

Gauff reacts

I just told myself to hang in there and I was playing really good tennis towards the end of the match and, honestly, the whole match was great.

In the beginning, you know, I think we both started off rocky but I think the match was good quality for the most part considering the circumstances. Both of us were nervous and this was a long-anticipated match-up since the draw came out so I’m glad this was a good match for you guys.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - AFP

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – AFP

10:06 AM

The winning moment for Gauff

10:00 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 6-7 Gauff – TIEBREAK

Raducanu backhand into the net, 2-5. Raducanu forehand well long, 2-6. Lovely backhand winner by Raducanu, 3-6. 

Gauff gets a mid-court backhand but nets, 4-6. Gauff lobs Raducanu, the Briton chases back but can’t get the ball back over the net, 4-7.

GAME SET MATCH GAUFF.

09:55 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 6-6 Gauff – TIEBREAK

Excellent from Raducanu to force Gauff into an error, 1-0. Gauff backhand winner, 1-1. Gauff stays in the rally bravely, Raducanu gets a drive volley but puts it in the tramlines, 1-2.

Gauff’s forehand approach shot clips the net and drops wide, 2-2. Raducanu forehand into the net, 2-3. Raducanu plays an excellent point but then puts her forehand into the tramlines, 2-4.

09:50 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 6-6 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Bit of a let-off for Gauff as Raducanu makes two errors to start the game. But the Briton responds with an overhead winner and then a backhand winner, 30-30. Another big point coming up.

Much needed first serve by Gauff and Raducanu’s return goes long, 40-30. Gauff hangs in the rally and Raducanu flicks a forehand wide.

TIEBREAK TIME!

09:46 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 6-5 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

First ace of the match by Raducanu, 30-0. Gauff forehand into the net, 40-0. Then a backhand return into the net.

Gauff must serve to stay in the set again.

09:44 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Rod Laver Arena is now completely captivated by this contest of wills. Gauff has choked her lead away but she was lucky with that freebie on the second Raducanu set point – a drop shot that caught the tape. The crowd are baying for a third set.

09:43 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 5-5 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Third double fault by Gauff, 40-30. Then a backhand long makes it deuce. A pivotal moment here.

Set point Raducanu after another wayward forehand from Gauff. Bad miss by Raducanu after Gauff desperately tries to stay in the rally. The American’s forehand is so shaky.

Great return by Raducanu and another error from Gauff, second set point. Raducanu gets a mid-court ball and inexplicably nets a drop shot. Completely the wrong shot at that point.

Good instincts at the net by Gauff after Raducanu goes at her again, ad Gauff. Raducanu pummels the Gauff forehand and the 18-year-old eventually breaks down.

Big first serve by Gauff and she finishes with an overhead winner, ad Gauff. Another first serve and she holds. Gusty tennis from Gauff. Will Raducanu rue those missed chances?

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - GETTY IMAGES

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – GETTY IMAGES

09:35 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Only the smallest of fist-pumps there as Raducanu holds to move 5-4 in front. She has been quite contained in her body language, and is also looking quite pained in her facial expressions. But her groundstrokes have been finding their mark more often.

09:34 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 5-4 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Hugely important Raducanu holds to put scoreboard pressure on Gauff.

Corner to corner by Raducanu and finishes with a backhand winner, 15-15. More dynamic tennis by Raducanu and she finishes with a backhand volley winner, 30-15.

Gauff forehand into the net, 40-15. Gauff puts another forehand long and it really is game on now.

Three games in a row from Raducanu and Gauff will serve next to stay in the set.

09:30 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 4-4 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Better from Raducanu as she races up to a drop shot by Gauff and finishes with a backhand winner up the line, 0-30.

Gauff double fault, three break points. Gauff is very tense.

Forehand into the net by Gauff. Raducanu breaks.

Game on?

09:28 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Gauff’s camp very animated as she outwits Raducanu with a lovely topspin lob. She has one of the biggest entourages with her parents, coaches and agents. It feels like there must be a dozen people in there, all giving a fist-pump. They’re in that mode where the finish line is in sight and they want her to stay focused on it.

09:27 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 3-4 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Very cool lob by Gauff over the head of Raducanu, 30-15. Gauff forehand into the tramlines, 40-15.

Gauff steps in and rifles a forehand winner down the line, 40-30. Raducanu holds.

As long as Raducanu can stay in touching distance, she’s still in with a chance.

09:23 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 2-4 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Just a second ace of the match from Gauff, 30-15. And another ace to hold.

Pressure back on Raducanu.

09:21 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 2-3 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Nice change up by Raducanu with a drop shot and Gauff nets, 15-15. Gauff backhand wide, 30-15.

All of sudden Raducanu looks OK again with a series of aggressive shots putting Gauff under pressure and drawing the error, 40-15.

And critically she holds after a miss from Gauff.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - SHUTTERSTOCK

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – SHUTTERSTOCK

09:16 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 1-3 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Raducanu appeared to be holding her abdominal area and wincing in the previous game. No trainer has been called she is on the ropes now.

Gauff holds to love very easily. Raducanu needed a fast start but its been the complete opposite.

09:14 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Raducanu has looked bright and up for this – which is not just a function of her colourful Nike kit – but her shoulders did slump a little there after a couple of double faults. The second of them was only 117kph which gives the impression that anxiety might be creeping in.

Alternatively, could there be another physical problem? She was touching her left side there.

09:12 AM

Raducanu 3-6, 1-2 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Raducanu carelessly puts a forehand wide, 0-30. Double fault by Raducanu, 0-40.

She saves the first when Gauff nets a backhand. Gauff applies more pressure but nets a sliced backhand, 30-40.

Another double fault by Raducanu. Gauff breaks.

09:08 AM

Raducanu* 3-6, 1-1 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Terrible drop shot by Raducanu when she had the momentum in the rally, 30-15. Another prolonged rally and Gauff flicks a forehand wide, 30-0. Key point coming up.

Huge hitting from Gauff off the backhand side and Raducanu can’t handle it, 40-30.

Another great rally, both players at their best, but Raducanu nets a backhand and that allows Gauff to hold.

09:04 AM

Second set: Raducanu 3-6, 1-0 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Important game for Raducanu, needs to get off to a fast start to apply pressure.

To her credit she races to 40-0 in this game and she holds when Gauff nets a forehand return.

09:01 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

Huge cheer as Raducanu finds the line with a forehand after a lovely cat-and-mouse rally. For the first time since she won the US Open, you feel as if she is just in a mode of “See ball, hit ball”, without other thoughts, injuries or pressures creeping in. But Gauff consolidates with a couple of solid points and that’s the first set.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - REUTERS

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – REUTERS

08:59 AM

Raducanu* 3-6 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Raducanu goes for it with a forehand but just misses the sideline, 30-0. But she responds with a deep return and rushes Gauff into an error.

Another rushed forehand by Gauff flies into the tramlines. Big point coming up next.

Gauff sprays a backhand long after upping her aggression, break point. Big ‘come on’ from Gauff after hitting a cross-court backhand winner, deuce.

Second break point for Raducanu after Gauff stretches for a volley but can’t get the ball over the net. Too good from Gauff as she drills a backhand down the line and Raducanu isn’t able to get the ball back in play, deuce.

What a rally, saw a bit of everything but it ends with a forehand winner from Raducanu, third break point. Great serve by Gauff and Raducanu nets, deuce.

Raducanu return long, set point. Deep Raducanu return and Gauff flicks a backhand wide, deuce.

Raducanu on the attack but she pushes a forehand long, bad miss, second break point. Gauff first serve in and Raducanu nets.

Gauff wins the first set.

08:52 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

The crowd have been favouring Raducanu a little, but clearly enjoying the charismatic tennis on show from both players. It’s a little patchy but the better rallies are varied and full of energy

08:51 AM

Raducanu 3-5 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Best point of the match by Raducanu, pushing Gauff left then right before flicking a backhand down the line, 30-0.

Another backhand winner by Raducanu against a flat-footed Gauff, 40-0. First return winner of the match goes to Gauff who rifles a 139km/h forehand past Raducanu.

Raducanu holds to force Gauff to serve for the set.

08:47 AM

Raducanu* 2-5 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Raducanu backhand pass for a winner, 15-30. Raducanu backhand long, 40-30. Wild forehand return by Raducanu and Gauff holds to end the streak of service breaks.

18 unforced errors for Raducanu, 10 for Gauff.

08:44 AM

Raducanu 2-4 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Drop shot by Gauff, Raducanu goes straight at her with a backhand but Gauff shows great reactions to lob the Briton and she can’t get the ball back in play.

Raducanu forehand long, 0-30. Great return by Gauff but Raducanu keeps composed and fires back a forehand which Gauff can’t get back in play.

Two break points for Gauff as she gets Raducanu on the move and in difficulty, forcing the error.

Raducanu saves the first. Raducanu hits a series of deep groundstrokes but crucially makes a forehand error.

Gauff breaks.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - REUTERS

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – REUTERS

08:37 AM

Raducanu* 2-3 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Looping backhand by Raducanu drops in and Gauff inexplicably leaves it, 0-30. Volley winner from Gauff, 15-30.

Followed by a forehand winner after setting up the point with a booming forehand.

Backhand return by Raducanu flies long, 40-30. Gauff attempts a drive volley but nets, deuce.

Break point Raducanu after Gauff nets a forehand. Missed opportunity for Raducanu as her backhand goes wide after slightly losing her balance.

Another great return by Raducanu forces Gauff into an error, second break point. Gauff double faults.

Raducanu breaks.

08:31 AM

Raducanu 1-3 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Raducanu gets Gauff on the run but can’t keep her forehand in play, 0-15. Brilliant cross-court backhand winner by Gauff, 0-30.

Raducanu goes for it with a forehand but pushes it long, three break points.

Raducanu saves the first. But not the second as Raducanu places a backhand into the net.

Gauff breaks.

08:26 AM

Raducanu* 1-2 Gauff (*denotes next server)

Chance for Raducanu here as Gauff puts another forehand long, 15-30. Raducanu goes on the attack and draws the error from Gauff, two break points.

First ace of the match by Gauff to save the first. A great second serve into the body from Gauff and Raducanu nets a forehand return.

Back-to-back returns into the net by Raducanu and Gauff holds.

08:23 AM

Latest update from Simon Briggs on Rod Laver Arena

It’s weirdly hazy in Rod Laver Arena, maybe the result of the pre-session show which had a country singer warming up the crowd. Did he have a smoke machine? You have to peer to see the ball.

08:23 AM

Raducanu 1-1 Gauff* (*denotes next server)

Double fault on the opening point for Raducanu. Nerves? She then sprays a forehand well long, 0-30.

Brave second serve by Raducanu leads to a return into the net by Gauff. Backhand into the tramlines from Gauff, 30-30.

First prolonged rally and Raducanu comes out on top as Gauff goes long with a forehand, 40-30.

And Raducanu survives that scare to hold when Gauff puts another forehand long.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - REUTERS

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – REUTERS

08:18 AM

First set: Emma Raducanu* 0-1 Coco Gauff (*denotes next server)

Early sign of Gauff’s power as she forces Raducanu to net in the first two points.

Raducanu gets her first point of the match when Gauff nets a backhand, 40-15. But the 18-year-old holds when Raducanu nets a backhand.

08:14 AM

Coin toss

Raducanu wins it and opts to receive serve. She likes to do that, putting the onus on her opponent.

08:09 AM

Here we go!

The two players walk onto court. Raducanu is the first on, still with her left ankle strapped. Gauff follows, wearing headphones.

Plenty of empty seats on RLA, hopefully, it will fill up soon.

08:06 AM

First match on Rod Laver Arena…

… for Raducanu. How will she react to playing on one of the world’s biggest courts?

07:58 AM

John McEnroe on Raducanu

It will probably be the first time in a couple of years where Emma Raducanu won’t be feeling the type of pressure she’s been feeling since she won the US Open.

So that’s probably a good thing, to allow her to be more free and do her thing, because to me she’s the type of player, the type of person and the type of talent that we could use in the top 10. I think Coco is in the better position right now to make a deep run and I think it’s going to be soon that she’s going to win a major event, in the next year or two at the most. To me she goes in as a heavy favourite.

She seems to be playing better and better and serving more consistently than she has done. I would say that it’s a match she should win, but a match that could put Raducanu back on the map again, which would be good for her.

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates - GETTY IMAGES

Australian Open 2023 live: Emma Raducanu vs Coco Gauff score and latest match updates – GETTY IMAGES

07:50 AM

ICYMI: Nadal is out of the Australian Open

Overnight one of the biggest upsets of the tournament took place as an injured Rafael Nadal was beaten in three sets by world No 65 Mackenzie McDonald in Melbourne.

Read Simon Briggs match report here.

emma raducanu vs coco gauff australian open 2023 live score updates - SHUTTERSTOCK

emma raducanu vs coco gauff australian open 2023 live score updates – SHUTTERSTOCK

07:35 AM

Good morning

Hello and welcome to a mouthwatering showdown at the Australian Open between two of the best young players.

Emma Raducanu takes on Coco Gauff for a place in the third round after both eased through their opening match in Melbourne

This time last year, Raducanu was playing at her peak and riding a wave of unprecedented success after breaking through in 2021 and clinching the U.S. Open while Gauff was making strides and reaching the second week of Grand Slams.

But Raducanu failed to find consistency last year as she was ravaged by injuries and underwent several coaching changes to fall to 77th in the rankings, while Gauff reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and now sits at number seven.

Gauff and Raducanu are seen as the torch-bearers of a new era of women’s tennis following the retirements of Ash Barty and Serena Williams, with the organisers scheduling their clash for the prime-time slot in the night session at Rod Laver Arena.

Such is their star attraction at such a young age that top seeds Iga Swiatek and defending champion Rafa Nadal’s matches have been relegated to the day session.

“I’m really looking forward to this match, I’m very up for it. Coco has obviously done a lot of great things and she’s playing well,” said Raducanu, who overcame an ankle issue to advance.

“She’s a great athlete with some big weapons… I think we’re both good, young players, we’re both coming through, part of the next generation of tennis really. It’s going to be a great match.”

While the entire hopes of a nation rest on Raducanu as the lone Briton left in the women’s draw, Gauff said she is not under the same pressure as the 20-year-old with several Americans in Melbourne to share the load.

“Being from the U.K., the first British person to do something in a long time, probably is a lot more pressure than what I’m used to being an American,” 18-year-old Gauff said.

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