Emma Raducanu marked her Grand Slam return with a dominant 6-3, 6-2 win over United States’ Shelby Rogers in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.
Raducanu, who missed a large chunk of 2023 with injury, was only granted entry into the Australian Open main draw after American player Lauren Davis pulled out through injury.
The 21-year-old overcame Rogers in just 76 minutes to secure a second round meeting with China’s Wang Yafan on Thursday.
Surgeries on both her hands and her ankle saw the 2021 U.S. Open winner play just nine games last year. She made her return to action at the Auckland Open earlier this month and her match against Rogers was her first major appearance since last year’s Australian Open.
“[Last year] I travelled here on a wheelchair,” Raducanu told reporters. “I only started hitting three days before the match. That whole process was a lot of stress. We weren’t sure if I was going to be able to play here.
“I think this year and now there’s just a lot more calm. It’s amazing to be pain-free with the wrists. I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever get to this stage.
“I had pain for so long. I was playing since before the U.S. swing in 2022 all the way before surgery. It was difficult because I wasn’t able to train, I wasn’t able to practice.”
Norrie had entered the tournament with injury concerns following his pullout from the ASB Classic in Auckland earlier this month with a wrist problem. But, the 19th seed looked untroubled on 1573 Court against the 81st-ranked Varillas.
His rhythm improved as the game went on and at one point led 5-1 in the second set after taking the first. Varillas fought back to take the next three games but Norrie held on to take the set and then the match.
Meanwhile, British No. 2 Dan Evans was knocked out in the first round after a 4-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) loss to Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
Evans took the first set in this thrilling contest but Sonego dug in deep to take the second set after an 18-point tiebreak before comfortably winning the third. Evans remarkably survived seven break points in the fourth set to take it to a tiebreak, but Sonego eventually prevailed to seal progress to the second round.
Draper struggled with his fitness through the game, and had to call the physio on during the second set to have his blood pressure checked. Immediately after the game ended, he rushed off to vomit in a courtside bin.
“It was weird,” Draper told reporters after the game.
“I obviously played such a long point, maybe it was sort of a reaction to finally getting over the line. I don’t know.
“I kind of felt bad because I obviously just beat the guy, and I was saying, ‘I need to shake your hand, mate, but I need to get to that bin.’
“I don’t really do that often, but it was a reaction.”