Former U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu faced a disappointing first-round exit at the Qatar Open, falling to world number 30 Anhelina Kalinina. The 21-year-old British player, who triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2021, experienced a significant dip in form during the subsequent season. Additionally, Raducanu endured an injury-ridden 2023, undergoing wrist and ankle surgeries that kept her sidelined for eight months.
Raducanu returned to the tour last month but faced early exits in Auckland, the Australian Open, and Abu Dhabi. Her struggles continued in Doha, where she lost 6-0, 7-6(6) to Kalinina. Reflecting on her performance, Raducanu acknowledged challenges in adapting to the demanding tour schedule, expressing a need for more thoughtful tournament scheduling and match experience.
“It’s hard for me to get used to the tour schedule. It’s one tournament then another straight away. I need to schedule my tournaments a bit better and try to get more matches under my belt,” noted Raducanu, currently ranked 262nd in the world. The defeat in Doha poses potential challenges for her participation in the Dubai tournament next week, where she would require a wildcard.
Raducanu hinted at taking a break before returning for the Indian Wells and Miami events next month. The young player emphasized the importance of practicing training outside, highlighting the differences in playing conditions during the day. She admitted to struggling with various aspects of her game during the match against Kalinina, citing difficulties with the serve, return, forehand, and backhand.
“Honestly, I need to practice training outside a bit more because it’s different, and also the light, conditions, shadows – it’s hard to see the ball, I found towards the end,” Raducanu explained. The British player made 48 unforced errors in her latest defeat, emphasizing the need for adjustments to enhance her overall game.
As Raducanu evaluates her performance and tournament schedule, the young talent aims to bounce back stronger, seeking to regain the form that brought her success at the U.S. Open in 2021. Her journey will likely involve strategic planning, increased match play, and addressing specific challenges in adapting to varying playing conditions.
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