Raducanu was playing just her third professional match on the clay and making her debut on the surface at WTA Tour level when she produced a stunning display to defeat the 197th-ranked qualifier 6-1 6-2. The 19-year-old was victorious in her clay debut at the BJK Cup on Satuday but then suffered a right foot injury in her one-sided loss on day two of the tie, needing a medical time out and bathing her feet in “surgical spirit” after picking up severe blisters.
The world No 12 looked worlds away from her “redundant and helpless” self in Sunday’s 6-1 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova, as she managed to almost reverse the scoreline against Sanders. After blowing her 40-0 lead in the first game to find herself at deuce, Raducanu held on and managed to get an early break, saving her own break point at 3-1 and going on to take the first set 6-1 in just 30 minutes.
She carried her momentum into the second set, breaking in a lengthy 12-minute opening game that saw five deuces and four break point chances for the Brit, as Sanders continued to fire double faults and looked overpowered by the eighth seed. Raducanu won seven games in a row before the Aussie finally ended her run and got on the scoreboard for 2-1 in the second set but the US Open champion broke again, leading 5-1.
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It was a welcome victory for the Bromley teenager, having previously won just two matches on the tour this year plus her 7-5 7-5 BJK Cup win over Tereza Martincova over the weekend. The match was also just Raducanu’s fifth tour victory since she won the US Open as a qualifier last September.
The world No 12 has been insistent that she believes clay could become one of her strongest surfaces despite having never played a professional match on the dirt until this weekend. “I feel this could be one of my strongest surfaces going forward but of course it’s early days right now,” she said during the BJK Cup tie in Prague. “I feel like I have got a lot more potential physically. And I do enjoy sliding. So, after spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better and learn more about the surface but also just the time that the clay brings. I feel like I can really use it and play aggressive.”