ATP

Top seed Schwartzman cruises into Cordoba Open quarters

By Sports Desk February 02, 2022

Top seed Diego Schwartzman cruised into the quarter-finals of the Cordoba Open after a straight-sets win over countryman Juan Pablo Ficovich on Wednesday.

World number 14 Schwartzman triumphed 6-3 6-2, converting three of five break points to win in one hour and 10 minutes.

Schwartzman will face Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galan who progressed with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory over Jaume Munar.

Eighth seed Pedro Martinez was eliminated by Argentina wildcard Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3 7-6 (7-3).

Londero will face Serbian Nikola Milojevic, another lucky loser, who got past wild card Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

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    Emma Raducanu produced a brilliant comeback to stun France’s Caroline Garcia and draw Great Britain level at 1-1 in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifier in Le Portel.

    Britain were staring at a 2-0 deficit and almost certain defeat when Raducanu trailed in-form world number 23 Garcia by a set and 2-0 after Katie Boulter had been thumped 6-2 6-0 by Diane Parry.

    But Raducanu, back in the team for the first time in two years after injury, showed once again what makes her a hugely special talent by fighting back to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory for her first top-30 win on clay.

    Speaking on the BBC, the former US Open champion said: “I was completely the underdog, especially going out here in her house, on clay. I definitely turned it around. I fought really hard, I dug in.

    “That was a really good test for myself because I hadn’t had those level matches very often. I’m very pleased with my performance and I’m very, very happy to bring this point home for the team and go into tomorrow 1-1.”

    The 21-year-old is inexperienced on clay but said again ahead of the tie that she feels it could be a good surface for her, and this was her best victory for more than a year.

    The power of Garcia, who recently defeated Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open, helped her edge a high-quality opening set, and the 30-year-old looked in control when she broke serve again to start the second.

    But Raducanu, who beat Garcia in Indian Wells in 2022 before losing to her at Wimbledon, met fire with fire, dialling up the aggression on her forehand in particular and turned the momentum around with a run of five games in a row.

    She had to show her gritty side when Garcia threatened a comeback of her own but the Frenchwoman appeared on the verge of tears during the deciding set as Raducanu kept her foot on the gas.

    The Kent player, ranked 302, saw the funny side after she celebrated a game short of victory at 5-1, but she kept her head impressively and looked delighted when a final volley earned her the spoils.

    “It was quite embarrassing,” said Raducanu of her mistake. “All I was thinking was, ‘If I lose this right now, I’m going to look like a right muppet’. I’m very happy that I managed to pull it through.”

    Earlier, Boulter’s inexperience on clay showed as she lost 12 games in a row against fast-rising 21-year-old Parry.

    Boulter has had an exceptional season so far but this was only the 17th match of her career on clay and her first at tour level.

    The British number one, ranked 28, told reporters: “I have to get better on the clay. It’s such a learning experience and it’s a really good learning experience for me.

    “I know my base level is there and that I can play some really good stuff. Practice has been awesome. The scoreline was tough but I felt it was a lot closer than it seemed.”

    Both captains must decide whether to make changes for Saturday, with Boulter scheduled to take on Garcia first up before Raducanu faces Parry.

    Three wins are needed to clinch a place in November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville, and France would be strong favourites if it came down to a deciding doubles.

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    Emma Raducanu will take on Caroline Garcia on Friday in her first match for Great Britain in two years.

    The former US Open champion is available to Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong for the tie against France for the first time since making her debut in April 2022.

    On that occasion, Raducanu won her first senior match on clay against Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic before losing heavily to Marketa Vondrousova in a tie Britain ultimately lost 3-2.

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    They are back on clay just across the Channel in Le Portel on Friday and Saturday, and Keothavong is likely to need Raducanu to win at least one match if Britain are to spring a surprise and reach the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November.

    Having pulled out of the Miami Open last month with a minor back issue, Raducanu will play her first match since an encouraging showing in Indian Wells ended in a competitive third-round loss to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka.

    She has met world number 23 Garcia twice before, beating her in Indian Wells in 2022 then losing at Wimbledon in the same year, but this will be their first match on clay.

    Raducanu has played only one match on the surface in nearly two years, and she told reporters in France: “I’ve not spent so much time on clay over the past few years.

    “It was interesting at the beginning but I think I learned pretty quickly. I’m starting to feel a lot better on the surface. I think in the future it’s going to be a surface that actually suits me. I’m maybe a little bit away from that right now but I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying the challenge.

    “I think it’s great that we can be in this position playing the French, who are so dominant. Coming on clay I definitely think we’re the underdogs but we have a lot of game and we’re ready to play this weekend.”

    The British number one is Katie Boulter, who has surged into the top 30 this year having been ranked well outside the top 100 12 months ago when Britain lost to the same opponents on hard courts in Coventry.

    She will take on up-and-coming 21-year-old Diane Parry in the opening match on Friday in what will be just Boulter’s third match on clay since April 2021.

    The reverse singles will take place on Saturday and, if necessary, the tie will conclude with a deciding doubles, for which Keothavong has selected Harriet Dart and Heather Watson, although changes can be made.

    The GB captain was keen to play up Britain’s status as underdogs, saying: “We’re here on French turf. The French have the home support, they have the experience in this team, they’ve had a lot of success in this competition.

    “But I’m confident and I back my players. It’s a great opportunity. We’ve prepared as well as we could have and I’m looking forward to the matches tomorrow.”

    Elsewhere in the qualifiers, Naomi Osaka is playing in the competition for the first time since 2020 in Japan’s tie with Kazakhstan while world number one Iga Swiatek leads Poland against Switzerland.

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