Citi Open: Emma Raducanu rolls past error-prone Louisa Chirico on her US return

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates winning a point against Louisa Chirico of the United States during Day 4 of the Citi Open at Rock Creek...

It was promising in places, predictably patchy in others but US Open champion Emma Raducanu made a successful return Stateside on her first appearance since being outfoxed by France’s Caroline Garcia during a second-round exit at Wimbledon in late June – beating American qualifier Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-2 to progress into R2 at this year’s Citi Open.

Raducanu reveals nerves were at play, happy to fight through

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain returns a shot against Louisa Chirico of the United States during Day 4 of the Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center...

Raducanu had five less winners (20-15) but much less unforced errors against an inconsistent Chirico

Raducanu [2] bt. Chirico [Q] 6-4, 6-2

  • 19-year-old will play Sofia Kenin’s conqueror Camila Osorio next on Thursday, after the Colombian youngster rallied to record first win since Roland Garros
  • “Louisa made it really difficult … the whole stadium could tell I was nervous, it’s normal to go through that, I’m pleased to have fought through some difficult moments with myself in the first set, happy to have battled through,” Raducanu in on-court interview

Louisa Chirico, who had already climbed 18 places to world no. 198 in the live WTA rankings here, showed why she was previously in the world’s top 60 (#58, reached in October 2016) as well as the reasons why the now 26-year-old has struggled to sustain those high levels on tour.

Chirico controlled rallies but rarely finished them efficiently, as Raducanu astutely pounced

Her brand of high-risk, high-reward tennis looked menacing when it worked and certainly had its moments here, but Raducanu – a good mover with counterpunching power to boot – could’ve easily had a tougher test on her return. It wasn’t straightforward, but it only gets tougher now.

Just ask American wildcard Sofia Kenin, a Major champion in Melbourne two years ago, for instance. Despite initially saving two set points and serving for the first set at 6-5, her first match after a five-month absence through an ankle injury looked like this, and really shouldn’t have:

Osorio racked up the winners while Kenin’s unforced error count speaks for itself, in a match that unravelled quickly

Chirico controlled a lot of the longer rally exchanges, but would often end it by spraying a shot wide or slamming home an emphatic winner – no in-between.

That frenetic pace, coupled with her inability to consistently hit first serves, allowed Raducanu multiple cheap points and a chance to maintain momentum when the first set got tight at 4-4.

The pair had to save break points in their opening service game of set two, Raducanu doing so with a crunching forehand crosscourt winner, before seizing the chance to go 3-2 up on her third break point opportunity after Chirico’s pair of flimsy drop shots.

One was attacked with a forehand down-the-line winner at the net which presented another break point, while the other didn’t make it over at all to finish said game with a whimper.

Raducanu could see the vulnerabilities being exposed opposite her and broke Chirico’s serve again with more precise hitting pulling the American one way then the next, before finishing the evening’s play with a delicate unreturnable drop shot winner.


OTHER NOTABLE R2 MATCHES TO WATCH OUT FOR, INCLUDE

Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur talking to journalists after her return to the capital Tunis from Wimbeldon, on July 13, 2022. Hailing her as the...

After a surprise defeat for Rybakina, Wimbledon runner-up Jabeur makes her return overnight

Citi Open
Simona Halep [3] vs Anna Kalinskaya
Jessica Pegula [1] vs. Daria Saville
San Jose
Ons Jabeur [3] vs. Madison Keys
Amanda Anisimova vs. Karolina Pliskova
ATP Washington
Taylor Fritz [3] vs. Alexei Popyrin
Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Hubert Hurkacz [2]
Sebastian Korda vs. Sebastian Baez [12]

Picture source: Getty Images, Amazon Prime

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