Emma Raducanu achieves her biggest win since the 2021 US Open final after recovering from a set and a break down to beat Caroline Garcia in the Billie Jean King Cup

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The performance we have all been waiting for came when it was least expected.  Emma Raducanu dragged Great Britain back into this Billie Jean King cup tie by coming from a set and a break down to beat France No 1 Caroline Garcia 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.  The 21-year-old has had bigger wins by ranking but given the still unfamiliar clay-court surface, the partizan atmosphere in Le Portel and the manner of the performance, this was Raducanu’s best result since winning the 2021 US Open.

British No 1 Katie Boulter began the day by winning the first two games then losing the next 12, as her unfamiliarity with the surface was ruthlessly exposed by France’s classy 21-year-old Diane Parry, 6-2, 6-0.  Remarkably, that was the 27-year-old’s first ever tour-level match on the red dirt — a symptom of the injuries that have pockmarked her career — and it showed.

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So GB were one down in the best-of-five tie and Raducanu found herself a set and 2-0 in arrears against a former world No 4. But even in losing that opening set Raducanu had played well and as Garcia — a notoriously streaky player — began to dip her level, the British player pounced. There were all the Raducanu hallmarks: aggressive returning, dazzling defensive movement and above all a dead-eyed focus.

As Garcia spiralled into Gallic gestures of self-castigation, Raducanu was like a coiled steel spring. So dialled-in was she that she celebrated early — raising her fist at 5-1. ‘Sometimes I am just super locked in that I don’t really get the score,’ she said. ‘It was quite embarrassing! All I was thinking was if I lose this I’m going to look like a right muppet. So I’m happy I managed to pull it through.

‘It is very difficult to play Caroline who has been having such a good season. I was the underdog going out here in her own house, on clay. I fought really hard, I dug in. ‘That was a really good test because I haven’t had those level matches very often.’

Captain Anne Keothavong must on Saturday decide whether to stick with her No 1 player Boulter, who looked so at sea on this surface, or drop her for Harriet Dart. Whoever plays will be up against it, so GB will likely require another Raducanu masterclass and a win in the deciding doubles to reach November’s finals. ‘Honestly I don’t mind playing against the crowd,’ added Raducanu. ‘They can get as loud as they want. Today, tomorrow, whenever. I think that’s a strength of mine.’


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