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Emma Raducanu thrills Eastbourne crowd with straight sets win over Sloane Stephens

Emma Raducanu delighted the Eastbourne crowd by dispatching Sloane Stephens in straight sets in the first round of the Rothesay International.

The 21-year-old Briton on Monday declared herself back in love with the sport following a torrid time with injuries.

She delivered in style on her maiden outing at Devonshire Park, producing a string of eye-catching winners to triumph 6-4 6-0 in a big-hitting battle of former US Open champions.

Wildcard Raducanu will face second seed Jessica Pegula in round two.

"It was a very close first set and I was down quite a bit all the way through and managed to break," she said on court following victory.

"But it's very difficult because Sloane is super athletic and, in the first set especially, she was making a lot of balls and counter punching really well.

"It took a lot to try and hit through her but I managed to figure it out in the second set."

Raducanu missed the entire grass-court season last year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle.

Yet she showed little sign of any fitness troubles as she warmed up for Wimbledon in devastating fashion by building on her recent run to the semi-finals of Nottingham.

Having been cheered on to Centre Court by a supportive home crowd, Raducanu was aggressive from the outset.

A succession of early holds was followed by four consecutive breaks of service during which the home favourite impressively dug in to prevent 31-year-old American Stephens gaining the upper hand.

A deft drop shot followed by an ace in game nine helped turn the contest in Raducanu's favour before she unleashed a stunning backhand cross-court winner en route to sealing the set.

She then cruised through the second set as world number 45 Stephens, who triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2017, struggled to cope with her opponent's power and precision.

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