Emma Raducanu records ‘meaningful’ first career top-10 win over American Jessica Pegula

Sam Joseph, CNN | 6/28/2024, 1:04 p.m.
Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu won her first ever match against a top-10 player on Wednesday, upsetting Jessica Pegula …
The landmark victory came at the eighth time of asking for Raducanu. Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu won her first ever match against a top-10 player on Wednesday, upsetting Jessica Pegula in the round of 16 at the Rothesay International in Eastbourne, England.

Raducanu produced a dramatic comeback against the American world No. 5, saving a match point en route to a 4-6 7-6(8) 7-5 victory. Raducanu let a 5-2 lead slip in the final set but broke Pegula’s serve in the next game, before holding her nerve to serve out the match.

The 21-year-old had lost her previous seven matches against top-10 opponents, but finally prevailed to delight of the British crowd.

“I’m pretty drained right now, but I just want to say thanks to everyone again for getting me through some really difficult moments in that match,” she said in her on-court interview.

Pegula is fresh off winning a WTA 500 tournament at the Berlin Ladies Open on Sunday and appeared to have brought that good form to Eastbourne, taking the first set 6-4 and opening up a 3-1 advantage in the second.

Raducanu rallied to force a tie-break, but things were still looking bleak for the Brit when Pegula edged ahead to a 6-5 match point lead.

A big serve followed up by a huge forehand winner in the next point gave Raducanu a lifeline, before two backhand errors by the American sent the match into the third, deciding set.

Raducanu earned a double-break in the final set but was unable to capitalize on her advantage as Pegula reeled off three straight games – including a stretch where she won 13 of 16 points – to knot it up at 5-5.

The former grand slam champion immediately broke back though and was given the chance to serve for the match once again, rebounding from a 0-40 deficit in the game to clinch the milestone victory.

“It’s incredibly difficult when you’re playing someone who’s so in-form like Jessica,” Raducanu said. “She came off the back of a great run in Berlin, and no doubt she’s feeling confident on the grass, but I’m really pleased with how I managed to navigate some really tough situations, and to be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to get myself out of it.

“I would say this match is one of the more meaningful ones to me. I’ve been going through some stuff and, to come through, it’s been really nice.”

After winning the US Open as a teenage qualifier in 2021, Raducanu has experienced a relatively turbulent career. Multiple injuries and long layoffs coupled with disappointing losses saw her ranking tumble, while three separate surgeries last year meant that she spent time confined to a mobility scooter.

Her grass court season has so far proved fruitful, having reached the semifinals in Nottingham earlier this month and improving her world ranking to 168. She will take on Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals as she continues her preparations for Wimbledon, where she has received a wildcard entry.