Australian Open: Emma Raducanu to open against Sloane Stephens

Emma Raducanu will take on Sloane Stephens in the first round of Australian Open

Emma Raducanu will take on Sloane Stephens in the first round of Australian Open

Emma Raducanu will face a tough test in the first round of the Australian Open as she takes on former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

According to the draw made on Thursday, Raducanu is the 17th seed at the Melbourne major.

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The spotlight will be on the Brit, who became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam at the 2021 US Open.

But Raducanu didn’t have the best of starts to 2022. She went down 0-6, 1-6 to Elena Rybakina on Tuesday in the Sydney International.

The 19-year-old from Bromley, South London played her first match under new coach Torben Beltz this week, but has won only two WTA matches since her triumph at Flushing Meadows.

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Tim Henman, who has been a mentor to Raducanu, defended her saying she’s still gaining experience on the WTA Tour.

“The reality is she’s so new to all of this, and it is a steep learning curve,” Henman said.

“I get asked all the time how good she’s going to be and she is a fantastic player, an enormous talent, a great athlete who’s got an amazing mindset, but I always think that the time to judge these young players is when they played every tournament twice.

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“I reflect on some of the other players like when you look at Coco Gauff or Jannik Sinner, it takes time, they’re enormous talents but you’ve got to be able to let them develop.”

Novak Djokovic included

Meanwhile World No 1 Novak Djokovic was included in the draw, which was delayed by an hour, despite an on-going fall-out with the Australian government over his visa.

He was drawn against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

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Britain’s Andy Murray will face 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili despite having already defeated him once this week, in the Sydney International quarterfinals on Wednesday.

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will start her bid for a home Grand Slam against a qualifier, which continue until Friday, while America’s Naomi Osaka will start against Colombia’s Camila Osorio.

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Barty and Osaka started in the same side of the draw, which means they could meet in a fourth-round tie that could set up a thrilling final.