Raducanu wins on Billie Jean King Cup debut to level tie for Britain

EMMA Raducanu(pix)won on her Billie Jean King Cup debut to give Britain a crucial point in their qualifier against the Czech Republic with a hard-fought 7-5 7-5 win over Tereza Martincova in windy conditions in Prague on Friday.

U.S. Open champion Raducanu, 19, was playing her first professional match on clay and gradually adjusted to the surface as she battled back in both sets to level the best-of-five tie after Harriet Dart lost 6-1 6-0 to Marketa Vondrousova.

Raducanu was trailing 4-5 and saved a set point before winning three games on the bounce to take the opening set. She then found herself 1-4 down but rallied to win six of the last seven games to close out the win.

“This one means so much to me because it is my first match in the Billie Jean King Cup and representing the team in my first match on clay,“ said Raducanu, whose last match on clay was at the 2019 junior French Open.

“Playing on clay took some adjusting even now. With the wind and some tricky bounces, to adjust and adapt in the situation was very challenging but I’m proud of how I dug in.

“In the beginning of the second set I went a bit flat and everyone in team said the intensity had dropped. It is difficult to regain that but glad I did in the end.”

Earlier, Elena Rybakina dispatched Laura Siegemund 6-0 6-1 in just over an hour after Yulia Putintseva upset three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber with a 3-6 6-3 6-2 comeback win to give Kazakhstan a 2-0 lead over Germany.

The best-of-five qualifiers feature two singles matches on Friday followed by two on Saturday along with one doubles rubber.

The winners will seal a place at the finals in November, with the losers advancing to a playoff tie.-Reuters