Betting preview: Emma Raducanu looking to build on solid start at Transylvania Open

Emma Raducanu made a solid start to the Transylvania Open in Cluj, but can she translate that into a second WTA Tour title?

The WTA Tour rumbles on in Romania as a host of established names gather for the Transylvania Open in Cluj this week.

Among them are top seed and home favourite Simona Halep and "adopted" Romanian Emma Raducanu, although the field is deeper than just those two.

Anett Kontaveit headlines the bottom half of the draw, and Ajla Tomljanovic will be a tough test for anyone who runs into her too.

Raducanu and Halep may have had one advantage stripped away, though, with COVID protocols requiring the match to be played without what would have been a partisan set of fans in the stands cheering them on.

Raducanu off to a flyer

Raducanu had a tough time at Indian Wells after winning the US Open, but she has made a good start in Cluj.

The British number one beat Slovenian Polona Hercog in the opening round, but what she did was not as impressive as how she did it.

Raducanu looked like she was cruising at 4-1 up in the first, but lost five straight games to surrender the first set. However, she gathered herself and regained control, eventually winning in three.

After the match she admitted it was nice to get back to winning ways and an 'important' win in that regard, adding: "I don't feel like I have a target on my back

"Even if there is pressure, I don't really think there is from outside pressure, the only pressure is from myself.

"Even if there is pressure it's something you learn to deal with and I actually quite enjoy playing with a bit of adrenalin.

"I know that win meant a lot to me to get through that so I can take confidence and loosen up for the next match.

"Now I feel like I have settled in a bit better, I am used to the court, I have played a match in the conditions."

What next for Raducanu?

Raducanu will come up against Romanian Ana Bogdan next, and she will once again be a big favrouite to win it.

Bogdan is currently ranked at 106 in the world, and she has never managed to get any higher than 59 during her career so far.

Raducanu has never played Bogdan before, so there will be a degree of the unknown about the contest for the youngster.

However, the 28-year-old Bodgan does not have a singles title to her name during her career, so it would be a major surprise if she had enough to beat Raducanu here if the Brit is anywhere near her best.

Halep the player to beat

Simona Halep in action at the US Open

Aside from Raducanu, the only other Grand Slam winner in the Cluj draw is Simona Halep, and she is easily the most established name in the tournament.

She made a powerful start to to competition too, beating compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-1, 6-2 in her opening match.

Halep has won two majors - a French Open and a Wimbledon - and reached the finals in three others too, so her pedigree is undisputed.

The Romanian has had a tough year, though. She has missed two Grand Slams due to injury and struggled in the ones she did play.

A quarter-final in Australia was as good as it got for Halep in terms of majors this season, with her crashing out in the round-of-16 at the US Open.

That has created a vacuum in terms of ranking points and she has slipped from being a fixture in the top ten to languishing down at world number 18.

"This year was a tough year with the injuries that I suffered and I struggled a lot just to come back but I am happy to be back on the court and happy that I can play again," Halep explained.

"I am healthy again and the positives are that I was able to come back and play some tournaments and some matches.

"It wasn't easy coming back as I missed 3-4 months and didn't play an official match. I still struggle but I am super confident next year will be better and I still love the sport and love being on the court".

Halep was Raducanu's favourite player growing up, and they are in the same half of the draw, and what a prospect that would be.

Best of the rest

Anett Kontaveit lifts the Kremlin Cup

The other name you'd fancy in the draw Is Estonia Anett Kontaveit. If anything, she is the form player in the field.

Kontaveit is having a fine year, and has won three of her four career singles titles in 2021.

That has seen her climb to a career-high-equaling number 14 in the world rankings, and she is definitely at the right age to be on an upward trajectory.

She is in the bottom half of the draw too, which definitely looks the kindest. Kontaveit comes into the tournament fresh from winning the Kremlin Cup last week, and she knows another title in Cluj could see her sneak into the WTA Finals. 

Kontaveit beart Aleksandra Krunic 6-3, 7-5 in her opening match, so that Kremlin Cup form is obviously holding quite true for now.

Keep your eye on Lesia Tsurenko as an outside bet too. She is another who has seen her ranking suffer but was touching the top 20 just two years ago. If she can find a groove, she's definitely one to watch.

She is still going strong in the competition after beating Anastasia Gasnova 6-2, 7-5 on Monday.

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