Emma Raducanu loses just two games in demolition job over Victoria Azarenka

·15 min read
Emma Raducanu loses just two games in demolition job over Victoria Azarenka - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu loses just two games in demolition job over Victoria Azarenka - GETTY IMAGES
  • Raducanu wins 10 games in a row in blistering start

  • Azarenka had no answer to the British No 1's quality

  • Raducanu to play Pegula for place in last eight

Emma Raducanu continued her preparations for the US Open in scintillating style after slaying her second former grand slam champion in as many days with a straight sets victory over Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati.

Less than 16 hours after she unceremoniously dumped Serena Williams out of the Western and Southern Open with a 6-4 6-0 win, the Briton produced an even more dominant 6-0 6-2 win in just over an hour.

Raducanu’s ruthless victory - in which she just dropped two games - was only the third time she has claimed back-to-back wins at a tournament since her iconic Flushing Meadows success last year in an encouraging sign that she is beginning to find her mo-jo ahead of the defence of her US crown.

Some 16 hours after bagelling all-time tennis great Williams, Raducanu inflicted exactly the same treatment on 33-year-old Azarenka, who looked a shadow of the player who won consecutive Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013.

Raducanu burst out of the blocks and bullied her Belarusian opponent from start to finish, breaking her in the opening game and never looked back, camping Azarenka on her own baseline for large periods of the match and forcing her into an error-strewn game.

It was arguably one of the maturest performances Raducanu has delivered since her stunning US Open success last year, and one which proved her tennis education, despite the coaching conveyor belt she has had in recent months, is ticking along nicely.

“I think I’ve realised in the past year that people are going to talk regardless of what you do,” said an elated Raducanu on court afterwards. “Things that I do are maybe more amplified because of my situation, but I’ve just learned to really zone in internally and today and yesterday, I didn’t really show any emotion. I didn’t let myself get high or low, I was just one level, and I think that definitely helped.”

Emma Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES

The teenager brought her powerful A-game to court and took the first set in just 26 minutes, executing her game plan with red-hot precision, and allowed Azarenka just 13 points as she racked up a second successive bagel in as many days.

Azarenka hurried off for a toilet break before the start of the second set, but was powerless to stop the rot. Her error-strewn game continued as Raducanu chalked up four more games and even looked to be heading towards a rare double bagel at one point.

But Azarenka, who has only played a handful of matches since the French Open after was banned from participating in this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to her country’s support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, dug deep and finally registered her first game at the 11th attempt when she held serve.

Yet her brief resurgence hardly troubled Raducanu, who cut a business-like approach on court and barely looked like she broke sweat under the afternoon Ohio sunshine.

Such was the dominance of her win that Martina Navratilova, who was working as a pundit for Amazon TV, asked the youngster afterwards whether she was putting anything different on her breakfast granola.

Emma Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES

“You’ve made me really aware of my last 12 months, Martina,” laughed Raducanu, who becomes the third British woman to reach the last-16 at Cincinnati, after Virginia Wade and Johanna Konta. “You know what? You’re going to have a bad year regardless. For mine to happen after winning the US Open from qualifying I think is all part of the journey. I’m learning from it.

“Today, I just realised that I’ve been really high and I‘ve been really low and I think just staying on one sort of level like I was today and yesterday just really helps as well.

“To me, whenever I hear past players’ comments, I really do respect everything they say. I feel like I can really take that honestly, I think that’s a real quality of mine. I don’t really get offended by anything and I just take it on board as constructive feedback and I can use it.”

Raducanu’s reward for dispatching two of the biggest names on the women’s tennis scene one after another is a third-round meeting with Jessica Pegula, the current American No 1. “It’s going to be a tough match,” admitted Raducanu.

Rampant Raducanu sweeps past Azarenka, as it happened

09:32 PM

Thanks for joining us

What a performance by Raducanu. These wins are just what she needed to build confidence ahead of the US Open.

She playing well and looking physically fit. Relive the match below and join us again tomorrow for her fourth round match against Pegula.

09:08 PM

Next for Raducanu

Raducanu will play American Jessica Pegula in the fourth round.

Pegula has had the best year of her career, reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian and French Open, climbing to a career high seventh in the world and winning last week's Canadian Open.

 Jessica Pegula - GETTY IMAGES
Jessica Pegula - GETTY IMAGES

08:56 PM

More from Raducanu

It was another honour to play Vika, she has won so many championships and slams, so it was a great honour to be out here.

I have realised in the last year, people are going to talk whatever you do and maybe things I do are more amplified because of my situation.

I just learned to really zone in internally and today and yesterday, I don't really show any emotion. I didn't let myself get too high or too low and that definitely helped.

08:44 PM

Raducanu reacts

I was playing a great match for sure and to play Vika I had to stay focused throughout.

In the second set I could feel the important moments and a couple of turning points that could have made the second set really difficult.

I am really pleased with how I dug in and serving it out in that last game was really difficult.

08:36 PM

That was mighty impressive from Raducanu

Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES
Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES

08:17 PM

Second Set: Raducanu 6-0, 6-2 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

Azarenka hits a  rare return off Raducanus serve, 15-30, before inviting Raducanu to the net and dinks a volley over the Briton which lands inside the baseline, 15-40.. and she has two break points.

But Raducanu wallops down a forehand winner with a crisp strike, showcasing some great footwork to position her body around the ball, 30-40, before delivering another fine return, deuce.

Azarenka's return from Raducanu's second serve is long... match point for Raducanu.. but she can't take it! Back to deuce after the Briton strikes a return beyond the baseline.

She watches the ball through the air before converting a volley, she now has a second chance to close out this match, and she does! Azarenka hits a return long, GAME SET MATCH RADUCANU!

Last night it was Serena, tonight it's Azarenka. What a demolition job from Raducanu.

08:09 PM

Second Set: Raducanu* 6-0, 5-2 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

One of the first mis-placed forehands we've seen from Raducanu today, as she hands Azarenka control of this game.

The Belarussian hasn't completely lost the plot and it's heartening to see her fight with a bit more resolve in these latter stages.

She wins another game, although Raducanu will serve for the match.

08:06 PM

Second Set: Raducanu 6-0, 5-1 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

Raducanu kicks things off with an ace and doesn't look back. Azarenka has wilted now and hasn't got much left to give.

One game away from victory....

08:01 PM

Second Set: Raducanu* 6-0, 4-1 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

Azarenka has played over 800 matches in her professional career and has never been double bagelled, but that could be about to change.

But the 33-year-old is having better fortunes in this game, she brings Raducanu to the net and thumps down a return, 40-15. Raducanu wins the following point but Azarenka digs deep as the Briton hits wide and.. Azarenka has won a game!

She's on the scoreboard, finally.

07:58 PM

Second Set: Raducanu 6-0, 4-0 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

Raducanu sends down another powerful serve which spins helplessly off Azarenka's racquet. It's 27 degrees out there on the court but the Briton looks like she's barely broken sweat, as she chalks up another game with a comfortable hold.

07:55 PM

Second Set: Raducanu* 6-0, 3-0 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

Are we on for a double bagel here?

Things are getting a bit awkward now. Azarenka is so, so far from her best and she double faults again when Raducanu has break point.

Three more games for Raducanu and she's into the last 16.

Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES
Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES

07:53 PM

Second Set: Raducanu 6-0, 2-0 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

Wow, a delicious serve from Raducanu as she cruises into a 40-0 lead, before Azarenka splays another return wide and comfortably holds.

The Briton has landed 84% of her forehand returns, in contrast to 64% from Azarenka.

07:50 PM

Second Set: Raducanu* 6-0, 1-0 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

A double fault from Azarenka, 30-30, before sending down a ferocious serve which Raducanu just about gets her racquet on. Azarenka wins the point after stretching her opponent, but she just can't catch a break right now. For every winner she hits, an error quickly follows.

It's all too easy for Raducanu, who breaks the Belarussian at the start of the second. She's very much in control.

07:45 PM

Azarenka heads to the bathroom..

..presumeably to give herself a stern talking to in the mirror.

Both players back out on court now. Can the Belarusian turn this around?

07:41 PM

First Set: Raducanu 6-0 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

It's Raducanu serving for the first set and continues the onslaught by tucking away a return out of Azarenka's reach in the corner.

She's doing everything right at the moment and it's one-way traffic. Azarenka is having  shocker, as Raducanu serves up an ace for set point.

She can't take it as the first time of asking, as Azarenka comes to the net and thumps down a shot that very nearly looked out. Raducanu then splays a shot long, before delivering another ace!

She takes the opening set 6-0. Fresh from bagelling Serena Williams last night, she's got another here. Impressive stuff.

07:36 PM

First Set: Raducanu* 5-0 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

It's all very flat-footed from Azarenka at the moment, as she drills another return into the net. She looks like she's trying to force some of her shots, which Raducanu is meeting with ease.

The 33-year-old wallops another return well wide - she's all at sea here and just can't get into the game. Another erratic return and it's Raducanu who leads 5-0.

A dream start for Raducanu, who is bullying Azarenka around the court.

07:33 PM

First Set: Raducanu 4-0 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

15-0, Raducanu pings a strong backhand right under Azarenka's nose, which she is helpless do anything with.

The Belarusian is rather unfortunate in the rally that ensues, her shot hits the top of the net before bouncing out and she stands with her hands on her hips, looking more than frustrated. But she bounces back with an astute backhand down the line, 30-30.

We're at deuce again, as Raducanu angles a return wide, but two strong serves later and the Briton finds herself up 4-0.

Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES
Raducanu - GETTY IMAGES

07:27 PM

First Set: Raducanu* 3-0 Azarenka (*denotes next server)

Raducanu produces a brilliant return as Azarenka finds herself on the wrong side of the court. Despite her dodgy service game, the teenager is looking the more comfortable of the two as she quickly zooms into a 15-40 lead.

She thumps down a volley which Azarenka returns, but the ball falls outside of the tramline.

It's a hat-trick of games already for Raducanu, who will be pleased with this early lead.

07:23 PM

First Set: Raducanu 2-0 Azarenka* (*denotes next server)

A sensational return from Azarenka off Raducanu’s serve - she’s done her homework - to go 0-15 up. Oops, a double fault from Raducanu 15-30.

Azarenka splays a return into the net on the next rally 30-30, but Raducanu is struggling with her serve at the moment - she double faults again 30-40.  Azarenka should have capitalised there, but wastes another shot into the net and it’s deuce.

A strong hold from Raducanu, who eventually comes through a backhand battle to win the game as Azarenka hits long.

07:16 PM

First Set: Emma Raducanu* 1-0 Victoria Azarenka (*denotes next server)

A strong start by Azarenka, serving up an ace, 15-0, before another winner. But Raducanu hustles and earns two break points. She splays one into the net.. but converts the second with a formidable return to break the Belarussian.

A perfect start for the Briton.

07:13 PM

Coin toss

Raducanu won the toss and has elected to receive.

07:10 PM

Azarenka will be a step up in class for Raducanu

Here's Martina Navratilova tells Amazon TV:

This is a good match up. A good measuring stick to see where both players stand."

07:07 PM

The players are out on court..

..and will begin their warm-up very soon.

07:06 PM

Pre-match shots of Emma with Andy...

Emma Raducanu - TWITTER
Emma Raducanu - TWITTER

06:53 PM

Experience could count in Azarenka's favour

Like Raducanu’s meeting with Williams on Tuesday night, this clash has a bit of a generational feel about it. At 33, Azarenka is 14 years older than Raducanu and has bucket loads of experience, but the two-time grand slam champion has only played a handful of matches since the French Open. She was banned from participating in this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to her country’s support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and opted not to play during the grass season.

Azarenka, who turned pro in 2003 and reached World No. 1 in 2012 after winning the first of her two Australian Open titles, has earned more than $34 million in her career. She has 21 career WTA Tour titles to her name and 511 victories over the course of her career, with 351 of those on hard courts.

06:46 PM

Raducanu and Azarenka on court soon

We’re just waiting for Andy Murray’s enthralling duel with Cameron Norrie to end on Centre Court. Raducanu and Azarenka will be on straight after…

06:41 PM

No respite for Raducanu

It will be interesting to see how the 19-year-old Briton fares against Azarenka given she's barely had time to digest her hyped-up victory over Serena Williams. Here's what she had to say about the quick turnaround before facing another former world No.1:

I think it’s important to really cherish the wins, because, I think, that if anything, this year has taught me that the wins don’t come by easily.

No matter what win that is, it means a lot to any athlete, and I definitely am going to take it in, be really proud of myself.  But it is a fast turnover tomorrow, and I probably have got 12 hours until I’m back on site.

I’m playing another Slam champion tomorrow, so it’s obviously going to be really difficult. Just going to try to prepare as best as possible.”

06:28 PM

Good evening

Welcome to our live coverage of Emma Raducanu vs Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the Cincinnati Open.

Raducanu’s meeting with former Australian champion Azarenka comes less than 24 hours after the Briton dispatched tennis icon Serena Williams in a much-hyped, generational clash.

Despite overwhelming support for the soon-retiring Williams, the 19-year-old remained unfazed throughout the encounter and cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 win against the tennis legend.

The US Open champion can expect more of a sterner test against world No. 22 Azarenka, who has been a mainstay on the women's scene over the past decade.

It will be the first time Raducanu faces off with the two-time grand slam winner and the youngster has already targeted the match-up as another opportunity for her to learn from "a great champion".

"I remember more recently when she was playing in the US Open and made the final in 2020. I was studying for my exams," said Raducanu. "I hadn't played tennis in months, and I was just dreaming that one day I'm going to play on Ashe, and one day I'm going to be at that level and playing these great players myself. Everything felt so far away.

"Obviously with the last year I have had, getting great exposure to these great players, and every time you get to play them, you get to learn from them as well and what they do really well that has helped them in their careers.”

Raducanu, who currently sits at No 10 in the world rankings, will be looking to string some consistency together as she continues her preparations for this month’s US Open after a mixed year since her historic Flushing Meadows success.

It's a busy night for the Briton, who also in action in the doubles later this evening with this year’s Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, meaning she faces a quick turnaround following this match.