TennisSection previews the 2022 Australian Open as Emma Raducanu takes on Sloane Stephens in the first round on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022.
The 2022 Australian Open draw served up an eye-catching first round that pits defending US Open champion Emma Raducanu against former US Open champion Sloane Stephens. None of the two players are in great form coming into this match, so there is a possibility this much-anticipated collision could turn into a cagey affair.
Emma Raducanu will make her Australian Open main draw debut with the eyes of the world gazed in anticipation of a potential odds-defying moment. Raducanu’s US Open title win last season was one of the greatest sporting feats of its kind. She became the first qualifier in tennis history to win a Grand Slam title, and among a multitude of records she broke in New York, she became the first player to win a Major title before winning a match at tour level which is even crazier. She has become one of the most marketable athletes as sponsors gobble up at her door. But things have awry for Raducanu on the court. It is part of the learning process of course, but there is little margin for error when she faces Sloane Stephens.
The fact that Emma Raducanu managed to pull off that historic title win at Flushing Meadows is a telling reminder that anything is possible in the women’s side of things. Sloane Stephens can attest to that. The 28-year-old, who is now a veteran on the WTA tour, won the US Open herself at astronomical odds in 2017. Stephens is set to make her first appearance of 2022 after taking some time off at the start of the year to wed her longtime partner and former Sunderland footballer Jozy Altidore. Can the American shatter Raducanu’s dreams?
Emma Raducanu and Sloane Stephens are yet to play each other on the professional tour. Tuesday’s match pits the past and current US Open champions. Raducanu has been limelight since that aforementioned feat in New York. But she appears to be struggling big time to balance expectations with her on court performances. Her start to the year was affected by her recent positive Covid-19 test. I think Stephens could be the biggest beneficiary as a result of all that.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Sloane Stephens in 3 sets.
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