Emma Raducanu pulls Great Britain level against Czechs in Billie Jean King Cup

The US Open champion defeated Tereza Martincova on her senior competitive debut for Britain.

By Press Association Published: 15 April 2022 - 2.00pm

Emma Raducanu found her feet quickly on clay to draw Great Britain level with the Czech Republic at the end of the first day of their Billie Jean King Cup tie in Prague.

The US Open champion’s clash with 50th-ranked Tereza Martincova was not just her senior competitive debut for Britain but also her first professional match on clay – another example of the remarkable career trajectory the 19-year-old has been on.

The pressure was on Raducanu after Harriet Dart’s 55-minute 6-1 6-0 thrashing by Marketa Vondrousova and she rose to the challenge impressively, claiming a 7-5 7-5 victory.

The teenager learned as she went on the surface, saving a set point after dropping serve in the eighth game and taking the first set with a run of three straight games.

She has shown a tendency to dip physically in the second sets of matches this season and was two breaks down at 0-3 and 1-4 in blustery conditions at the historic Cesky club, positioned on an island in the Vltava river.

But Martincova was clearly feeling the occasion and Raducanu demonstrated her battling spirit once again to fight back, winning six of the last seven games.

Raducanu’s last match on clay came in French Open juniors nearly four years ago but she spoke positively about her prospects on the surface ahead of the tie – despite losing her toenails in training.

This will certainly be a morale-boosting result for the teenager – it is just the third win she has managed this season and Martincova is the highest-ranked player she has beaten since her semi-final victory over Maria Sakkari at the US Open.

It was also a crucial win for Britain if they are to cause a huge upset and defeat the perennial champions to book a place in the finals week later this year.

Earlier, Dart was comprehensively outclassed by Olympic silver medallist and former French Open finalist Vondrousova, who grew up playing at the club and is a high-quality player, particularly on clay.

Dart exploited some early nerves from her opponent and should have led 2-0 but, helped by a string of double faults from the British number two, Vondrousova quickly settled and reeled off 12 games in a row.

The opening match on Saturday sees Raducanu take on Vondrousova in a hugely intriguing encounter, with three points needed for victory in the tie.

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