Victorious Raducanu 'doing things at own pace'

Britain's Emma Raducanu says she is doing things at her "own pace" following her assured first-round victory over Sloan Stephens at Eastbourne.

The 21-year-old has been criticised in recent weeks for opting to skip the French Open and deciding not to play for Great Britain at this summer's Olympics in Paris.

After beating fellow former US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-0, Raducanu scribbled "at my own pace" and a drew a winking face on a TV camera lens.

"I'm going to do things on my own time, at my own pace, and I'm in no rush to do anything," Raducanu said when asked about the message.

"I'm just way more focused on my own lane and less susceptible to outside opinions or views."

Raducanu was launched into the spotlight in 2021 when she ended Britain's 44-year wait for a women's Grand Slam singles champion with her stunning US Open victory.

But she has not reached the same heights since and her 2023 season was plagued by injury issues.

Asked whether she had been influenced by outside criticism after her first major win, Raducanu said: "At such a young age, it's easy to get caught up in it.

"I think at one point I was chasing, playing too many tournaments when I wasn't ready, and then I was just picking up niggle after niggle in every tournament, because I never really gave myself any time to do the training and the work."

Elsewhere on Tuesday, British number one Katie Boulter held off a late charge from Croatia's Petra Martic before wrapping up a 6-1 7-6 (10-8) victory.

Both Britons will play at Wimbledon, which begins on Monday.

'I'm doing things how I want, not how everyone else thinks'

Raducanu said she was prioritising the home grass-court season and building up to full fitness after withdrawing from French Open qualifying last month.

It is a move that seems, so far, to be paying off for her, having reached the semi-finals of the Nottingham Open earlier this month.

"Even though I might get challenged or questioned for not playing certain tournaments like the French Open or the Olympics, I think that for me, that is just part of it, doing things at my own speed and doing things how I want to rather than how everyone else thinks is best for me," she said.

"Ultimately me and the close few people around me know what is actually best for me and my game."

She and Stephens struggled to assert control in the opening stages, with the pair exchanging breaks before Raducanu struck the decisive blow at 5-4 - much to the delight of the British crowd.

Raducanu's momentum grew from there, breaking Stephens' serve at the first opportunity in the second set.

And there was no looking back for Raducanu, who received a huge roar from the crowd after she broke Stephens' serve for the sixth and final time to triumph after one hour and 17 minutes.

She will face world number five Jessica Pegula, who is fresh from winning the Berlin Open title on Sunday, in the second round, in what is sure to be a test of her recent form.

'More dramatic than needed' - Boulter holds off Martic

Boulter retired early at the Birmingham Classic last week because of illness but there were no signs of fatigue from the 27-year-old in the opening set against Martic.

She raced through it in 27 minutes and looked like she would put the match to bed swiftly when she opened up a 3-0 lead in the second.

But Martic, the world number 74, mounted a surprising comeback, winning the next five games.

Boulter recovered in time to stop her opponent serving out the set before forcing a tie-break.

An edgy Boulter eventually came through at the second time of asking after saving two set points.

"That was a little stressful. It was a little more dramatic than I hoped it to be," Boulter said.

"I'm very happy to be through that."

Boulter successfully defended her Nottingham Open title earlier this month and will be seeded at Wimbledon for the first time.

She will face a tough task against former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the next round.