Emma Raducanu criticises umpire after beating Ena Shibahara on return to grass at Nottingham Open

June 11, 2024

Emma Raducanu was critical of the umpire at the Nottingham Open as she cruised past Ena Shibahara in straight sets to qualify for the second round.

The former US Open champion returned to winning ways while making her first appearance on grass in two years, seeing off her Japanese opponent 6-1 6-4 in 70 minutes.

Raducanu was not happy with the officiating throughout and claimed after the match that she was on the end of some "insane" line calls which left her feeling like it was "two vs one" in her first-round victory.

Less than 24 hours after British compatriot Harriet Dart described the standard of line-calling as "pretty appalling" in her defeat to Katie Boulter, where she offered to bet the chair umpire £50,000 she was wrong about a call, Raducanu was on the wrong end of some questionable decisions.

But she did not let it affect her and began her latest career reboot with a comfortable victory over Shibahara.

Raducanu was pleased to beat "her and the umpire" and suggested some of the calls were made deliberately to extend the match.

"I mean, I feel like I was playing two vs one on court, it was insane," Raducanu said. "I would have used probably at least four challenges!

"I think a lot of the time they go both ways, today I felt they were all against me but it just makes me feel better that I managed to beat her and the umpire as well.

"It is difficult when there is no challenge but it is something everyone has to deal with.

"You can be fortunate in some ways, maybe it was just trying to make the match more competitive, it was 6-1 and 5-1 and all of a sudden first point serving at 5-3 it's a really bad line call.

"It's something I had to deal with and overcome. I am very pleased with the attitude I came out with from the get-go and also having to deal with the adversity."

The PA news agency contacted tournament organisers for a comment on the standard of officiating at the event.

Despite the controversy, It was a sweet homecoming for Raducanu as she registered a first WTA Tour victory on British soil.

The 21-year-old skipped the French Open to prepare for the grass-court swing as she continues to take small steps on her road to recovery from three surgeries this time last year, where she went under the knife on both wrists and an ankle, leaving her using a mobility scooter to get around.

Her six-week hiatus produced early fruit in a promising performance in her first match in this country in 714 days.

"I was very pleased to come through that, it wasn't easy," she said. "I haven't played in a match for a while, playing someone who comes through qualifying and is used to the conditions, I am very pleased to have won that match.

"And more just happy with how I was in myself. My demeanour was great, my attitude was great, that is the most important thing and if I have that then I know the tennis will follow.

"An element of me forgot what it was like to play at home and have that support behind and it is amazing, it's a great feeling.

"I am very lucky to have great support wherever I play, but it's not quite like coming and playing in the UK. It's something that me and all the Brits cherish and look forward to every year."

From the moment she took the opening game with a cute lob to break her opponent's serve, she was in control.

With some sweet ball striking and serene mobility around the court, Raducanu looked in good shape as she dropped just one game in a flawless first set, which included two breaks of serve.

An early break in the second put her on course for the quickest and most handsome victory of her career as she dominated the world number 274.

A late rally from Shibahara blotted the copybook as she won three games in a row, including two breaks to give Raducanu the jitters before she got over the line.

"It's been quite a few weeks since I last played a competitive match so I didn't really know how it would go," Raducanu said in her on-court interview. "My intentions were great from the start.

"I played a really good match. At the end inevitably if you're 6-1 5-1 up something probably could go wrong. I was trying to not let it get to my head and just preparing and fighting for each point. I knew that even though I lost three games in a row I still had a chance to win the match.

"I'm very pleased with how I dealt with the circumstances today."

    Osaka wins first grass-court match in five years

    Naomi Osaka kicked off her grass-court season with victory over world No 32 Elise Mertens 6-2 6-4 in the first round at 's-Hertogenbosch on Tuesday for her first win on the surface since Wimbledon 2019.

    "I just try to play every point as much as I can and hopefully that will take me further and further," Osaka said on court. "As of right now, I'm really happy."

    Osaka finished the match with 21 winners to 13 unforced errors, while holding Mertens to just nine winners.

    Jessica Pegula eased past Aliaksandra Sasnovich, winning 6-2 6-2.

    "It felt really good," Pegula said on court. "It's nice that we got some good weather today. It always helps when the conditions are beautiful. I was happy that I was able to get out here and take care of business."

    What's coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

    In the run-up to the third Grand Slam of 2024 - Wimbledon - you can watch all of the biggest tennis stars in action live on Sky Sports as they compete across the grass-court season.

    • Stuttgart Open (ATP 250 with Andy Murray in action) - June 10-16
    • Rosmalen Open (ATP/WTA 250) - June 10-16
    • Berlin Open (WTA 500) - June 17-23

    Watch the WTA and ATP Tours throughout 2024 on Sky Sports Tennis. Stream Sky Sports Tennis and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership. No contract, cancel anytime.

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