MELBOURNE (AFP) – Teenage US Open champion Emma Raducanu said 2022 will be a learning experience as she adjusts to the big time, with her first-round win at the Australian Open “a great step forward”.
The 19-year-old made history by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title in New York last year, but she had won only two matches since heading into the Australian Open.
The Briton was back to her imperious best in beating 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 on Tuesday in her maiden main draw appearance at Melbourne Park, and said she was soaking up the experience.
“I think 2022 is all about learning for me,” she said as she begins her first full season on the WTA Tour – a year ago she was studying for school exams.
“Being in those situations of winning a set and then having to fight in a decider is definitely all just accumulating into a bank of experience that I can tap into later on down the line.”
Raducanu played the juniors at Melbourne once before and lost in the first round.
Adapting to night matches on show courts that can run until the early hours is also something she is grappling with.
Her clash with Stephens on Margaret Court Arena ended just before midnight, which she admitted was “way past my bedtime”.
“I think that it’s something I’m also learning about, myself and what works for me, dealing with those late finishes and the night matches and maybe not being able to get
to sleep as early because of the adrenaline you’re running on,” she said.
“I think it will be a good experience learning from that, and I can’t really tell you because I’ve only had one night match in the past.
“I think it’s a great step forward for me to come out here and win my first match here in Australia,” she said.
She will next play Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic today.