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Blistered Raducanu Bows Out of AO

A determined Danka Kovinic and deep blisters combined to burst Emma Raducanu's Australian Open dreams.

Pained by blisters on her racquet hand, Raducanu resorted to the slice forehand exclusively for stretches, but the 98th-ranked Kovinic cracked authoritative answers in a gritty 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 second-round win.

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US Open champion Raducanu saw her 11-match major win streak snapped.

The blister was so deep Raducanu said members of her team advised her against playing. But the 17th-seeded Briton competed with grit drawing pain and perspective from her AO debut.

"It was a difficult match. I, you know, was struggling with my hand before the match," Raducanu said. "There were some people in my team that, you know, maybe didn't want me to play, but I wanted to go out there and fight through it, you know, see how far I could get.

"But I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me. You know, I discovered tools about myself and my game that I didn't know I had before, so yeah, I can take some positives even from this match."

Tennis Express

A resourceful Raducanu showed she can improvise solutions, as she did with the slice forehand, and still compete when limited by injury.

"I mean, it's weird," Raducanu said. "Obviously the slice forehand worked, but there were situations where, because I'm not I mean, it's not like my most comfortable shot or my first choice. I didn't know how far it could take me.

"But also when Danka would hit the ball heavy and spinny to my forehand side, it's very difficult to slice that shot when it's coming heavy and deep. It's much easier when it's lower and a bit flatter. I felt like her ball was tougher to hit a slice on. But yeah, I mean, to get that second set with basically one shot I think, I can't believe it, really."

In her historic to the US Open title last September, the then 150th-ranked Raducanu became the first qualifier, man or woman, to capture a Grand Slam singles title prevailing in straight sets in all 10 of her Flushing Meadows matches.

In Melbourne, Raducanu twice went the distance defeating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens before today's second-round defeat. Raducanu, who began working with new coach Torben Beltz in December, battled Coronavirus last month, endured a humbling thrashing from Elena Rybakina in her first match of 2022 but showed strong resolve.

More importantly, Raducanu said her maiden Melbourne major appearance strengthened her competitive spirit.

"I really enjoy playing the Grand Slams," Raducanu said. "I think that the takeaways is tough. The start of the year, I mean, I still think I can take some positives out of it. You know, I did discover elements of my game I didn't know I had before, and I can use that going forward.

"And also, I just know that I've got that fight in me, even if I have got, like, one shot, I know that I can pull myself out of deep situations. Whereas, because I'm still young, I feel like I can learn a backhand, I can learn some sort of tactics, but it's quite hard to learn or teach someone that fight and grittiness to hang in there when things are pretty much all against you. So I'm quite proud of that."

Photo credit: Getty