Emma Raducanu celebrated her victorious return to competitive tennis after a long hiatus, defeating Ena Shibahara in straight sets at the Nottingham Open. This marked her first win on British soil in 713 days.

Raducanu had not played since April, citing the need to focus on her transition to grass courts and recover fully from surgeries on both wrists and an ankle, which sidelined her for eight months. “I am very pleased with both my tennis and my fitness,” she said, expressing satisfaction with her performance and recovery.

The match against Shibahara was not without its challenges, primarily due to questionable umpiring. Following Harriet Dart’s criticism of the officiating at the same event, Raducanu echoed similar sentiments. “I mean, I feel like I was playing two vs one on court, it was insane,” she remarked, frustrated by multiple contentious line calls. Despite these hurdles, Raducanu triumphed 6-1, 6-4.

Deploying a slightly modified serve, Raducanu dominated the match with her powerful and precise groundstrokes, preventing doubles specialist Shibahara from gaining any significant foothold. The crowd at Centre Court warmly welcomed the 2021 US Open champion, whose aggressive play and solid movement on the court showcased her readiness for the grass season.

Raducanu’s larger complaint was with the officiating. Like Dart, she criticized the absence of Hawk-Eye technology, which is not available at this event. This lack of electronic line-calling led to several disputed calls. “It’s not just me, yesterday Harriet was saying the same thing. At this tournament quite a few players say it,” she pointed out.

Despite these frustrations, Raducanu praised the crowd’s support and reflected on her journey. “An element of me forgot what it was like to play at home and have that support behind and it is amazing, it’s a great feeling,” she said, appreciating the home advantage.

Looking forward, Raducanu will face Ukraine’s Daria Snigur in the round of 16. Confident and determined, she aims to continue her successful return to the grass courts.

Emma Raducanu’s first-round victory against Japanese-American qualifier Ena Shibahara at the Nottingham Open was a testament to her resilience and skill. This match, her first competitive outing in seven weeks, ended with a 6-1, 6-4 win. The 2021 US Open champion, welcomed enthusiastically by the Nottingham crowd, showed no signs of the injuries that had plagued her in the previous year.

During the match, Raducanu contended not only with Shibahara’s attempts to dominate the net but also with controversial umpiring. Raducanu, echoing Harriet Dart’s earlier complaints, was visibly frustrated by the absence of Hawk-Eye technology, leading to several disputed line calls. Despite this, Raducanu maintained her focus, breaking Shibahara’s serve multiple times and hitting powerful groundstrokes that her opponent struggled to counter.

Post-match, Raducanu expressed satisfaction with her performance and health. “I am very pleased with the attitude I came out with from the get-go and also having to deal with the adversity,” she said, highlighting the mental and physical hurdles she overcame.

Raducanu also reflected on the support from the home crowd, which she had missed during her long recovery. “An element of me forgot what it was like to play at home and have that support behind and it is amazing,” she said, looking forward to building on this momentum as she progresses in the tournament.

Raducanu’s return to grass courts, after opting out of the French Open, is off to a promising start. Her next match will be against Daria Snigur, and she is keen to continue her winning streak, buoyed by the vocal support of her home fans.