Emma Raducanu: US Open champion grinds out maiden WTA Tour win at Transylvania Open in Cluj
World No 23 Emma Raducanu seals her first WTA Tour win, having lost in the opening round at previous tournaments in Nottingham, San Diego and Indian Wells; the US Open champion battles back from a set down to defeat Slovenia's Polona Hercog in Romania; Cameron Norrie wins Vienna opener
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 27/10/21 6:14am
US Open champion Emma Raducanu recorded her first WTA Tour match win in gutsy fashion against Slovenia's Polona Hercog in the opening round of the Transylvania Open in Cluj on Tuesday.
Raducanu showed glimpses of the kind of form which made her a global star in New York with a fine 4-6 7-5 6-1 comeback victory against world No 124 Hercog.
She led the opening set 4-1 but capitulated before battling back to win the next two sets and claim her first win at this level.
Speaking during her press conference, the 18-year-old said: "I feel really happy to have won that match. It was very difficult and I wasn't playing my best tennis but Polona is a great opponent, she's really experienced, so I really had to fight hard to pull that one through.
"I thought by the end of the third set I was playing some better tennis and the most important thing was I earned another opportunity to play better in the next round."
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The Briton, who was knocked out in the second round at Indian Wells when she returned to action this month, was contesting just her second tournament since she stunned the sporting world when she won the Flushing Meadows title as a qualifier.
Playing in Romania - the country where her father was born and grandmother still lives - Raducanu made a storming start behind closed doors at the BT Arena due to Covid-19 restrictions.
She won the first three games and appeared to be in control of the set at 4-1 up, but the experienced Hercog rallied for a break of her own before levelling at 4-4.
The third seed lost the aggression which dominated the early part of the set, instead resorting to a defensive sliced forehand, which Hercog picked off at ease.
The Slovenian won her fourth game in a row to take the lead for the first time and then closed out the set on serve.
Raducanu stopped the run of games against her with a solid hold of serve in the opening game of the second set, but the 18-year-old struggled to break down the Slovenian, who reached a career-high of 35 in 2011.
World No 23 Raducanu saved a couple of break points to hold on to her service game in the ninth game and again two games later, but she stayed positive to square things up on her third set point.
The 18-year-old from Bromley in Kent maintained her level of intensity into the deciding set as her game began to flow nicely.
Her pace and power eventually broke down Hercog to race away with the match, winning eight out of the last nine games, to set up a meeting with Romanian Ana Bogdan in the next round.
"I know Ana a little bit. We spoke off court and she was really nice and friendly," added Raducanu. "I've never played against her and she's obviously a great opponent but I've not seen much of her."
Jaqueline Cristian went full 'Dracula' as she came from a set down to defeat Kaja Juvan in a thrilling contest, 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3).
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Cameron Norrie notched up a seventh win in a row as he opened his Erste Bank Open campaign with victory over Marton Fucsovics.
The British No 1 was playing his first match since his breakthrough triumph at Indian Wells 10 days ago and came out on top against the Hungarian with his 11th from the last 12 matches as he continues to enjoy the form of his life.
Norrie overcame a difficult start to win 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in Vienna.
The world No 14 will play sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the next round with Andy Murray back in action on Wednesday when he plays Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.