Raducanu’s French Open ends in disaster | Sunday Observer

Raducanu’s French Open ends in disaster

29 May, 2022
 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus-Emma Raducanu
Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus-Emma Raducanu

British number one Emma Raducanu was unable to capitalise on a one-set lead as her French Open debut ended with a defeat in the second round.

Raducanu, 19, lost 3-6 6-1 6-1 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

Later on Wednesday, Cameron Norrie became the first British singles player to reach this year’s third round.

Norrie, seeded 10th, earned a 6-3 6-4 6-3 win over Australia’s Jason Kubler to reach the last 32 on the Paris clay for the second successive year.

Raducanu’s exit means there are no British women left in the singles draw, with Heather Watson and Harriet Dart losing in the first round.

Raducanu, seeded 12th, was unable to take any of five break points in the third game of the deciding set - and it proved pivotal.

Sasnovich held serve after a 13-minute game, broke in the next and that enabled her to coast to victory.

US Open champion Raducanu has lost in the second round in her two Grand Slams since the win in New York last year.

Raducanu played 47th-ranked Sasnovich in her first match as a Grand Slam champion, losing in straight sets at Indian Wells last October, but said she was a “different player now”.

Seven months on, Raducanu is still trying to find her feet in a debut full season on the WTA Tour which has provided significant challenges.

That learning curve has been particularly different to most teenagers beginning their careers because of the added attention that comes with being a major champion.

The main hurdle has been coping with the rigours of playing full-time against the world’s best players, with a constant stream of niggling injuries hampering her progress.

A back injury was an issue going into the French Open and she seemed to be far from her physical peak as she faded badly against Sasnovich.

But Raducanu is likely to look back on her debut clay-court season with a decent amount of pride, having won six of her 11 matches on the surface.

“I think overall it was a really tough match from both sides, we played some good tennis and in the bigger points she was better today,” Raducanu told BBC Sport.

“I definitely think it has been a positive clay-court season and looking back I’ve learned a lot of things.”

After coming under pressure at the start of the first set, Raducanu figured out 28-year-old Sasnovich, stuck to her gameplan and was able to bring out more errors from her opponent.

While the scoreline perhaps flattered Raducanu, it seemed likely she would use the platform to maintain her confidence and potentially improve further.

The teenager has proved to be a good frontrunner, most notably in her US Open run, and had lost just two of the 20 matches where she had won the first set from Flushing Meadows onwards.

But something was different during the second set on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The emotion she showed during the opening set disappeared and her body language quickly changed as Sasnovich began to find the time to again start executing crisp winners.

A number of cross-court forehands proved particularly devastating at the start of the second set, with the Belarusian also showing a delicate touch to break for a 3-0 lead that she never looked like relinquishing.

Raducanu nipped off court before the decider, perhaps aiming to seek inspiration from a moment of solitude. (BBC Sport)