Emma Raducanu battled back from a slow start to win her first match since sacking coach Torben Beltz at the Madrid Masters. The US Open champion trailed 2-5 and had to save three set points before taking a first-set tiebreak against world No.49.Tereza Martincova.
But after finding her feet in her first ever outdoor professional clay event, the Bromley teenager then raced to victory 7-6 6-0 in 96 minutes. The US Open champion announced her split from Beltz after only five months on Tuesday and then she did not need a “conventional” coach.
She has the LTA’s head of women’s tennis Iain Bates working with her in the Spanish capital this week along with her agent Chris Helliar. And she often turned to the pair in her player’s box for encouragement – and then in celebration as she turned the match around for only her sixth WTA Tour win of 2022 in her eighth tournament.
The two had met for the first time in the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague last month with Raducanu winning 7-5 7-5 in her first ever professional match on clay. But the Czech, who has tattoos all down her left arm, made the first break when she took her sixth break point in a marathon Raducanu service game to lead 4-2.
In her next service game at 2-5, the British No.1 saved a first set point with a daring inside-out forehand winner which hit the line. And when Martincova then served for the set at 5-3, Raducanu saved two more set points before breaking back with a brilliant backhand winner.
When the No.9 seed then held her own serve to draw the match level at 5-5 with another backhand winner, she turned to her box and gave a fist pump and a scream of ‘C’mon’. By contrast, Martincova’s body language showed her frustration with her own game and the Spanish support given to the Major winner.
An error-strewn tiebreak saw the first five points go against serve before Raducanu pulled clear with two winners and took the set after 68 minutes when Martincova sent a smash return long. The US Open champion wasted little time in the second set as her flat backhand down the line constantly troubled her Czech foe.
She raced to a 4-0 lead before saving a break point – and then played an audacious drop shot before holding to lead 5-0. It is the kind of variety that the hardcourt specialist will need to add to become a challenger on claycourts.
The No.9 seed will next face wildcard Marta Kostyuk, the Ukrainian who thrashed her in only 57 minutes in their only previous meeting at the Transylvanian Open last October.