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Emma Raducanu records ‘meaningful’ first top 10 victory in her career over American Jessica Pegula



CNN

Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu won her first-ever match against a top 10 player on Wednesday, upsetting Jessica Pegula in the round of 16 at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, England.

Raducanu made a dramatic comeback against the American world number 5, saving a match point en route to a 4-6 7-6(8) 7-5 victory. Raducanu let a 5-2 lead slip in the final set but broke Pegula’s serve in the next game before holding her nerve to serve out the match.

The 21-year-old had lost her previous seven matches against top-10 opponents, but ultimately won to the delight of the British crowd.

“I’m quite exhausted now, but I want to thank everyone again for getting through some really tough moments in that match,” she said in her on-field interview.

Raducanu reacts after winning the match.

Pegula has just won a WTA 500 tournament at the Berlin Ladies Open on Sunday and looked to have brought that good form to Eastbourne, winning the first set 6-4 and opening a 3-1 lead in the second.

Raducanu rallied to force a tiebreak, but things still looked bleak for the Briton as Pegula surged ahead to a 6-5 match points lead.

A big serve, followed by a huge forehand winner in the next point, gave Raducanu a lifeline, before two backhand errors from the American sent the match into the third, deciding set.

Raducanu earned a double break in the final set but couldn’t capitalize on her lead as Pegula reeled off three straight games – including a stretch in which she won 13 of 16 points – to make it 5-5.

However, the former Grand Slam champion immediately broke back and was given the opportunity to serve for the match again, recovering from a 0-40 deficit in the match to complete the milestone victory.

“It’s incredibly difficult when you play someone as in shape as Jessica,” Raducanu said. “She came off a great run in Berlin, and she’s undoubtedly feeling confident on the grass, but I’m really happy with the way I managed to navigate some very difficult situations, and to be honest, I thought not that I could get myself out of it.

Raducanu and Pegula shake hands at the net.

“I would say this match is one of the most meaningful for me. I went through some things and it was really nice to get through it.

After winning the US Open as a teenage qualifier in 2021, Raducanu has had a relatively turbulent career. Multiple injuries and lengthy layoffs combined with disappointing losses saw her ranking plummet, while three separate surgeries last year left her on a mobility scooter for a time.

Her grass court season has proven fruitful so far, after reaching the semi-finals in Nottingham earlier this month and improving her world ranking to 168. She will face Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals as she continues her preparations for Wimbledon, where she has a wildcard received. entry.