Emma Raducanu ruthlessly dismisses Victoria Azarenka at Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

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Emma Raducanu ruthlessly dismissed former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-0 6-2 at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The Brit followed up a straight-sets victory over Serena Williams in style and remained incredibly focused as Azarenka suffered from a nightmare of a match.

Azarenka wasn’t able to hold serve until the fifth game of the second set, and struggled with all areas of her game, including her serve from the first points of the match.

In contrast, Raducanu displayed a steely focus and outstanding concentration to keep her foot on the gas for two sets. She wasn’t fazed by Azarenka’s bathroom break after the first set and will now take on American Jessica Pegula in the round of 16.

Seventh seed Pegula came back from a set down to defeat Marta Kostyuk 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-2.

“I was playing a great match for sure,” Raducanu said on court after.

“I had to stay really focused throughout and in the second set I could feel the important moments. There were a couple of turning points that could have made the second set really, really difficult… more than it already was.

“I’m really pleased with how I dug in and serving it out in that last game as well.

“It was another great honour to play Vika, she’s won so many Championships and Slams. It’s just a great opportunity for me to be out here.”

Image: Raducanu remained focused and didn’t let her foot off the gas for the duration of the match

When asked about her mindset at this level and whether she was playing to silence critics or to send a message to other competitors in the draw, Raducanu gave an honest response.

“I think I’ve realised in the last year that people are going to talk, regardless of what you do,” she said.

“The things that I do are maybe more amplified because of my situation. I’ve just learned to really zone in internally. Today and yesterday, I didn’t really show any emotion. I didn’t let myself get high or low, I was just at one level and I think that helped.”

Despite the short turnaround following her triumph over Williams, Raducanu quickly found her groove and punished a wayward Azarenka.

The teenager brought her powerful A-game to court and won the first set in just 26 minutes.

Raducanu hit a flurry of winners and allowed Azarenka just 13 points as she racked up a second successive bagel set.

A toilet break could not stem the tide for Azarenka, who was extremely error prone and Raducanu reeled off four more games to move within touch of victory.

The Belarusian, who was the champion of this tournament in 2020, finally registered her first game at the 11th attempt when she held serve.

There was to be no spectacular comeback, though, as Raducanu remained focused and calm to wrap up victory in less than an hour.

Elsewhere in the draw, Ons Jabeur saved match points to overcome Caty McNally 6-3 4-6 7-6 (9-7) in two hours and 23 minutes.

Simona Halep was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a right thigh injury. As a result, Veronika Kudermetova receives a walkover into the round of 16 where she will face either either Paula Badosa or Ajla Tomljanovic.

Halep now joins a number of players looking to make sure they’re fit in time for the forthcoming US Open.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Coco Gauff shared an update on social media after she was forced to pull out of her first-round match against Marie Bouzkova.

“I promise I am ok,” Gauff wrote. “I have been told it is most likely a really minor sprain, so everything should be healed soon.”

Amanda Anisimova is now also recovering from an ankle injury. She withdrew from her second-round match in Cincinnati.

Image: The last time a player notched up 50 wins in a season was back in 2019

World No 1 Iga Swiatek secured her 50th win of the season with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Sloane Stephens as she opened her account at the Western & Southern Open.

This season, 39 of Swiatek’s 50 victories have been straight-sets wins and she’s not lost yet in 2022 when she secures the first set of a match.

Swiatek, who received a bye in the first round, will face either Madison Keys or Jelena Ostapenko next in the round of 16.

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