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Raducanu hits out at ‘INSANE’ umpiring calls in victory over Shibahara

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  • Emma Raducanu beat Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-4 in Nottingham
  • It was Raducanu’s first match on grass in 713 days as she won on home soil again
  • However, the 22-year-old was left fuming with several umpiring calls in the game



Emma Raducanu was venting in the Nottingham Tennis Centre’s media room when the automatic kettle in the corner began to boil noisily, a timely addition to the steam that was being let off by the 21-year-old Briton in spite of this skilful win.

Raducanu won 6-1, 6-4 against Ena Shibahara in her first match on grass in two years and her first on any surface in two months, finally victorious again on home soil in front of 2,500 spectators. But she spoke of her frustration afterwards.

Not with the late wobble she encountered, having originally led 6-1, 5-1 after less than an hour, but with the calls that were made during this clash contested without Hawk-Eye.

If anything, it showed the fire in Raducanu’s belly for this career reboot. We witnessed that fervour on court in Nottingham, emphasised by the early evils she was exchanging with the umpire, Ana Carvalho, whenever she believed a ball deemed in was out and vice versa. It started from the very first shot of the match, a serve from Shibahara that she claimed was long.

Raducanu resisted going as far as Harriet Dart – her compatriot who tried to bet £50,000 to umpire Kelly Rask that she was right about a disputed line call on this very court during her ill-tempered defeat by Katie Boulter – but she could not help having her own dig.

Emma Raducanu beat Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-4 in Nottingham on Tuesday
However, Raducanu was left fuming with several umpiring calls from her straight sets victory

‘I mean, I felt like I was playing two v one on court, it was insane,’ said Raducanu, currently ranked 209 in the world. ‘I would have used probably at least four (challenges). A lot of the time they go both ways. Today, I felt they were all one way, against me, but it just makes me feel better that I managed to beat her and the umpire as well at the same time.’

Such a statement in football might lead to an FA charge and fine, but Raducanu was relieved she managed to overcome the lack of Hawk-Eye during this 70-minute match.

‘It is difficult when there is no challenge but it is something that everyone has to deal with,’ she added. ‘Maybe it was just trying to make the match more competitive. It was 6-1, 5-1 and all of a sudden, first point, serving at 5-3, it’s a really bad line call. It’s something I had to deal with and overcome. I am very pleased with the attitude that I came out with from the get-go and also having to deal with the adversity.

‘It is happening more and more – more and more tournaments are getting Hawk-Eye. There is a beauty in having all the linesmen and it does add to the drama for the spectators. For us, it can be the most frustrating thing ever. It’s not just me. Yesterday Harriet was saying the same thing. At this tournament, quite a few players say it.’

This was judged to be a favourable opener against Shibahara, ranked 24th in the world in doubles but 274th in singles. For much of this match, Raducanu made the Japanese qualifier look like she could do with a partner as she constantly chased lost causes down either side.

It all seemed so routine when Raducanu was leading 6-1, 5-1, only for the Brit to cough up two breaks of serve to Shibahara. Practice all you want, there is no substitute for playing matches proper, and the Nottingham crowd were glad to see Raducanu eventually prevail 6-1, 6-4 to set up a tougher second-round tie with Ukraine’s Daria Snigur.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray lost in straight sets to American Marcos Giron in Stuttgart yesterday. That 6-3, 6-4 defeat came in the 999th singles match of the 37-year-old’s career, denying him the chance to face his fellow Brit Jack Draper. His 1,000th clash is set to follow at Queen’s next week as he prepares for what could be his final farewell to Wimbledon next month.

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