Of all the things we expected from Emma Raducanu’s return to grand slam competition, a smooth and drama-free evening wouldn’t have been top of the bill. Her narrative has been far too twisty for that.
Yet on a balmy evening in Melbourne, Raducanu put on a calm, composed and professional performance to ease past world No 156 Shelby Rogers. She didn’t do a great deal with the ball, but then she didn’t have to, as Rogers was rusty after a six-month injury layoff.
Raducanu was never under pressure in her 6-3, 6-2 victory, which occupied an efficient 1hr 16min. She settled for big targets and steady rallies, knowing that Rogers – who racked up 35 unforced errors at a rate of just over two per game – would be missing the court sooner or later.
This always looked like a favourable draw, and that’s exactly how it turned out. Meanwhile, the nearest seed, Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, suffered an unexpected first-round loss to Yafan Wang of China – the world No 94 who will now face Raducanu in the second round.
With no strapping on her body and no real effort expended, Raducanu will probably feel like she has come through a gentle training exercise. Her Australian Open campaign has started in textbook fashion, even though it is sure to get harder as the first week progresses.
Raducanu vs Rogers, as it happened
10:55 AM GMT
Raducanu is back!
10:47 AM GMT
Plenty of support for Raducanu today
10:39 AM GMT
The numbers behind Raducanu's victory
Four aces for Raducanu vs two from Rogers.
91 per cent of points won on the 1st serve by Raducanu
Just 16 unforced errors by Raducanu compared to 35 from Rogers
Raducanu faced no break points and broke Rogers three times
10:23 AM GMT
Who will Raducanu play next?
Raducanu will be back in action on Thursday against China’s Yafan Wang earned one of the biggest wins of her career after fighting back from 0-6, 0-3 down to beat Sorana Cirstea 0-6, 7-5, 6-2.
10:14 AM GMT
If you are looking for an omen...
The last time Raducanu beat Rogers at a major, she went on to win the US Open.
Could she do it again?
10:05 AM GMT
Emma Raducanu is back to winning matches at majors! She beats Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-2. Pretty routine as Rogers was very rusty. Raducanu will face world No97 Wang Yafan in the 2nd round.
(That's 4 wins from 4 for the Brits today. Dan Evans currently on court v Lorenzo Sonego)
— Molly McElwee (@molly_mcelwee) January 16, 2024
Great to see Raducanu winning a match at a major again#AusOpen
— Matthew Rhodes (@mattlockrhodes) January 16, 2024
Great to see the return of the Raducanu smile
Let’s hope it’s not a false dawn for 2024
— Mike Torbitt (@CoronitaKing) January 16, 2024
10:01 AM GMT
A winning smile
09:54 AM GMT
Raducanu 6-3, 6-2 Rogers*
Body serve from Raducanu cramps up Rogers and draws the return error on the opening point. Another wild Rogers forehand sails well long, 30-0.
Backhand long from Rogers, three match points. GAME, SET, MATCH RADUCANU.
The Briton gets it done with a forehand winner. Beaming smile on her face. She will be delighted with how she’s played.
09:50 AM GMT
Raducanu* 6-3, 5-2 Rogers
Raducanu turns defence into attack with a lovely drop shot winner, 30-40. Hit that like a clay court master.
Ace from Rogers to hold and Raducanu will serve for the match next.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2024
09:46 AM GMT
Raducanu 6-3, 5-1 Rogers*
A demoralised look about Rogers. She knows the end is nigh. She is being made to work very hard just to stay with Raducanu at the moment.
Raducanu has dropped just two points on her serve in the second set and she’s now a game away from victory.
09:43 AM GMT
Raducanu* 6-3, 4-1 Rogers
Deep return by Raducanu forces a Rogers error and it’s 15-30. Another Rogers forehand misses the baseline and it’s two break points.
Great defending and hustling from Raducanu to stay in the rally, a short sliced backhand drags Rogers into the net and the American dumps a backhand into the net.
Raducanu breaks again! She’s two games away from the second round.
09:39 AM GMT
Raducanu 6-3, 3-1 Rogers*
Raducanu opens the game with her fourth ace of the match then overhead winner.
Raducanu needs to keep the ball away from Rogers’ forehand. Most of her winners have come from that wing and she hits another to make it 30-15.
But Raducanu ticks off another game when Rogers hits a forehand long. Considering how long she’s been off the tour, she is managing the match very well.
09:36 AM GMT
Raducanu* 6-3, 2-1 Rogers
Probably Rogers’ best game of the match. First serves in play and a couple of forehand winners allow her to hold.
She marches back to her chair. She still believes she’s in this match.
09:32 AM GMT
Raducanu 6-3, 2-0 Rogers*
Longest service game of the set for Raducanu. Not enough first serves and it’s allowed Rogers to apply a bit of pressure on the return.
We have a brief stoppage here as a bug stops play after coming onto court. Raducanu has to keep her concentration here and consolidate that break.
And she backs that back that break up when Rogers nets a backhand. That was a good game to squeeze out of.
09:24 AM GMT
Latest update from Simon Briggs in Melbourne
A very polite match so far. Not much intensity, unlike Jack Draper’s tumultuous five-set win earlier this evening. You might even call it “flat”, to borrow Andy Murray’s word for his own performance yesterday. Rogers has been showing her rustiness, after six months out with injury, and at this stage it feels like a training exercise for a grateful Raducanu. Perhaps we’ll see a more dramatic second set.
09:24 AM GMT
Second set: Raducanu* 6-3, 1-0 Rogers (*denotes next server)
Rogers tosses the ball up but the wind blows it back over her head. The conditions are very tricky for both players.
Forehand down the line winner by Raducanu makes it 30-30. Important point coming up which could shape the direction of the set.
Frustration for Raducanu though as she hits her forehand return wide. Big fist pump from Raducanu after Rogers nets a forehand, deuce.
Break point Raducanu after jamming Rogers in the corner and forcing the error. Raducanu breaks!
Ideal start to the set for the Briton as Rogers puts a forehand long to drop serve.
09:15 AM GMT
Raducanu 6-3 Rogers*
Ideal service game from Raducanu as she earns herself three set points with a forehand winner.
And she will be delighted with that opening set as she seals it following a backhand error from Rogers.
Raducanu’s level would have to drop massively to not win from this point.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2024
09:11 AM GMT
Raducanu* 5-3 Rogers
Raducanu really starting to overpower Rogers. The American is struggling to deal with the weight and depth of Raducanu’s shots and is making a lot of unforced errors.
After slipping to 0-30, Rogers keeps herself in the game by fighting back to 30-30. Nice one-two combo from Rogers as she finishes with a forehand winner and completes the hold with an ace.
Raducanu to serve for the set next...
09:07 AM GMT
Latest update from Simon Briggs in Melbourne
It’s been blustery and hot all day but now it’s much stiller and there’s a chilled-out evening vibe around 1573 Arena, as the sun goes down behind the high-rise buildings of Melbourne city centre.
Every seat is taken but not a lot of crowd noise right now.
09:07 AM GMT
Raducanu 5-2 Rogers*
Super serving from Raducanu. A quick-fire hold puts her a game away from the first set.
She’s won 14/15 points on her first serve with two aces. That is very good numbers.
09:04 AM GMT
Raducanu* 4-2 Rogers
Raducanu will be content with the start she’s made here. She’s striking the ball cleanly, getting good width on her shots and moving well which is good after having strapping on her thigh last week.
The only difficulty at the moment is the wind. Rogers snaps Raducanu’s three game streak with a hold to 15.
09:00 AM GMT
Raducanu 4-1 Rogers*
It’s not really a break of serve unless you consolidate it and Raducanu makes a decent start at doing that after an ace makes it 30-0.
Another unreturned first serve makes it 40-0. And she seals a hold to 15 when Rogers makes another forehand error.
Ideal start to the match from Raducanu.
08:57 AM GMT
Raducanu* 3-1 Rogers
Good play by Raducanu as she rushes Rogers, getting her on the run and drawing the errors.
Rogers goes long with a forehand and it’s three break points. The American saves the first with a forehand winner down the line. Two more chances for Raducanu... Now one after Raducanu nets a defensive forehand.
Raducanu breaks! Third time lucky from the Briton as Rogers hits a forehand into the tramlines to drop serve for the first time.
08:52 AM GMT
Raducanu 2-1 Rogers*
Great movement from Raducanu and she whips a lovely forehand pass past the onrushing Rogers. That is the danger of coming into Raducanu’s forehand.
Too good from Rogers as she fires a flat forehand into the corner for a winner, 15-30. Not enough first serves into play from Raducanu and it’s putting her under pressure.
First foray into the net from Raducanu and it’s a successful one as she puts away a forehand volley, 40-30. Raducanu gets low to meet a deep return from Rogers but pushes her backhand long, deuce.
Raducanu comes through another service game to lead. When she gets her first serve in, she is winning 88 per cent of points. But so far she’s made just 8 of 16 first serves. Needs to get that number up.
08:44 AM GMT
Raducanu* 1-1 Rogers
Look for Raducanu to try and rush Rogers on every second serve she gets. Especially if the serve comes to her forehand wing.
The American manages to find two first serves which Raducanu fails to return and that allows her to hold serve.
08:40 AM GMT
First set: Emma Raducanu 1-0 Shelby Rogers* (*denotes next server)
Wry smile from Raducanu after she sprays a forehand long on the opening point but she responds with a wide first serve which Rogers nets.
Breezy conditions in Melbourne which could impact the ball toss early on but she has no trouble with a lovely short angled backhand winner to move 40-15 in front.
First double fault of the match. Clearly a bit of tension in the shoulders after so long out.
A forehand return long from Rogers and Raducanu holds.
08:36 AM GMT
Early win for Raducanu
The Briton won the coin toss and will serve first. She’ll want to make a fast start...
08:33 AM GMT
Here we go!
Huge cheers for Raducanu as she strides on 1573 Arena.
The sun is beginning to set in Melbourne and it still looks very warm.
08:30 AM GMT
WATCH: Raducanu beat Rogers on the way to winning the US Open in 2021
08:26 AM GMT
Countdown to Raducanu
Game, set, match Juncheng Shang, who fights back from two sets to one down to take out Mackenzie McDonald.
I’d say Raducanu will be on court in the next 5-10 mins.
08:19 AM GMT
WATCH: Shot of the tournament so far
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 16, 2024
08:08 AM GMT
Boulter battles into round two
British No 1 Katie Boulter was made to work hard before eventually beating Yue Yuan of China 7-5, 7-6.
A forehand winner on her fifth match point sealed the win and she now awaits the winner of Qinwen Zheng vs Ashlyn Krueger.
07:59 AM GMT
Is 2024 going to be the year of Raducanu?
I think success to me in the long-term is, for the rest of the year, to play a full season, to be healthy throughout, to be able to train consistent weeks. I know my level is there, I just need to keep working on it to make it more consistent.
I think that will come with time in the gym, time on court, being able to play the calendar, not thinking about, Will I have to pull out from this one, does that hurt. Just being able to go consistently throughout the year.
Yeah, I think my level, to be honest, is just too good not to come through if I put consistent work together.
07:49 AM GMT
Raducanu start time
Raducanu vs Rogers will follow the ongoing match between Mackenzie McDonald and Juncheng Shang, which has just gone to a fifth set.
I’d say Raducanu will be on court after 8.30am.
07:37 AM GMT
Norrie into second round
Cameron Norrie dispelled injury worries to ease into the second round of the Australian Open.
The British number one pulled out of the ASB Classic in Auckland last week, the city where he grew up, ahead of his quarter-final because of a left wrist problem.
Norrie admitted he was concerned with so little time to recover but there were no causes for alarm in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas as he became the first British winner of the fortnight.
07:26 AM GMT
Draper vomits in courtside bin after winning five-set battle
Jack Draper vomited into a courtside bin after overcoming struggles with the Melbourne heat to defeat Marcos Giron in his first five-set match.
It is a measure of how inexperienced the 22-year-old still is at the highest level that he had never previously played a match that went the distance, and he looked in serious trouble at two sets to one down against American Giron.
But Draper has been working hard on his physical conditioning and it paid off as he fought back to win 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-0 6-2 after three hours and 20 minutes.
As soon as he had shaken hands with Giron after a final gruelling rally, he ran to the bin to be sick and it was several minutes before he was able to walk off the court.
Jack Draper completes five-set and then pukes in courtside bin. Incredible effort pic.twitter.com/ggD5DLrCVa
— Simon Briggs (@simonrbriggs) January 16, 2024
Draper with the 'hurry up and shake my hand cause im gonna vomit" pic.twitter.com/HWqBuKvVRR
— Ryan (@Some1NamedRyan) January 16, 2024
07:18 AM GMT
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07:09 AM GMT
Hello and welcome to coverage of Emma Raducanu’s opening match at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park.
It has been a year since her place major tournament clash after requiring operations on both wrists and one ankle.
The road to recovery has been long and arduous but the 2021 US Open champion says she is fit and raring to go.
“Yeah, physically I feel good,” she said. “I did a lot of good work in the off-season. But I think that regardless of how good I may feel on the court on a particular day or in practice, I think to get that level of consistency is going to require more time.
“So, yeah, I’ve been doing the right work, doing it consistently. I just need to keep going like more and more. But, yeah, I feel good on court and in the gym.”
Raducanu, who faces American Shelby Rogers this morning, was asked if the time away has given her a different perspective.
“Yeah, I think because when you realize in my case, for example, I had two wrists and ankle all in very close succession so I could have the minimal time off possible,” she replied. “Each one is two weeks of no sweating at all. For a period of time, I had a scooter to move around. I couldn’t, like, text, anything.
“It just puts things into perspective. The feeling of not being able to move your body, like to walk to the kitchen to get a snack, for example, I couldn’t do it. And you miss it. You don’t really realize until you go through it yourself, no matter how many different athletes say, Be grateful, appreciate being healthy. Like, of course it’s nice to hear, nice to say, but I feel until you actually experience it yourself, it’s different.”
Stay with us for all the build-up, news and latest updates once the match gets underway.