Sloane Stephens has sent a warning shot to Emma Raducanu after their first round match at the Australian Open.
Raducanu showed resilience to overcome Stephens yesterday, grinding out a 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 result.
Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, could not win a game against her teenage opponent in the first set.
In just 17 minutes, Raducnau won 24 points to Stephens’s four, and broke the American three times.
The second set saw Stephens come back into the match, capitalising on a number of errors made by Raducanu, but she could not secure the victory in a crucial third set.
After the match, the 28-year-old Stephens revealed she felt the battle with Raducanu had been even.
“It was a very up and down match that could have gone either way,” she said.
“She came out firing from the first point, and let out a massive scream. She wanted to come out super aggressive which she obviously planned. She did that well so I just had to make sure I didn’t get too out of control.”
Following her victory at the US Open in 2017, Stephens reached the French Open final the following year and rocketed up to world number three, but she has since struggled on the biggest stage.
She has only progressed to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam once in 11 appearances since Roland-Garros in 2018, slipping down to world number 67.
Raducanu will be looking to avoid a similar career trajectory after her improbable victory at the US Open in September, and she has now been given advice by Stephens.
“I know people compare us, but all we’ve got in common really is that we’ve both won the US Open,” Stephens said. “If you think about the way she won it, that’s pretty backwards compared to mine, and that makes it so hard to manage.
“Also she’s carrying the whole country, so that’s different to my game entirely. So she’s got to learn to manage it and figure out what’s for her and what isn’t.
“Because she is so young it’s definitely a long road, so there’s going to be a lot of ups and downs and I think she just has a lot to learn.
“She hasn’t been through much of anything yet. There’ll be some crazy experiences and the hardest part is trying to prove you’re good enough to even stay where you are.
“The more you try to prove, the more the emotions show. I don’t just mean this about Emma but we’ll be here when she comes down, too.”
Next up for Raducanu is world number 98 Danka Kovinić, who overcame qualifier Jang Su-jeong in the first round.
Kovinić has a career-high singles ranking of 46th but has never made it past the second round of a Grand Slam.