Qatar Open: Emma Raducanu beaten by Anhelina Kalinina in first round
Emma Raducanu revealed her difficulties as she suffered a defeat against Anhelina Kalinina, who is ranked 30th in the world, during the Qatar Open held in Doha.
The British player performed poorly during the first set, with a significant difference in scores. She made 15 mistakes that could have been avoided while her Ukrainian competitor made only two.
In the second set, the competition was tougher and she had to save two match points. However, Kalinina managed to win with a score of 6-0 and 7-6 (8-6).
Raducanu, a 21-year-old tennis player, expressed to Sky Sports that she had been having difficulties with all aspects of the game, including her serve, return, forehand, and backhand.
I had the sensation that I never fully immersed myself in the activity.
The ex-champion of US Open is at the beginning of her return to the game after being absent for the majority of 2023 due to corrective surgeries on her hands and left ankle.
In her first comeback tournament in Auckland, she managed to secure a victory, made it to the second round of the Australian Open and emerged victorious against tennis player Marie Bouzkova, who is ranked 36th in the world, during her recent match in Abu Dhabi.
However, after the win, she faced a thorough loss against the second highest ranking player, Ons Jabeur. Despite being given another opportunity to participate in Qatar through a wildcard entry, she faced an early elimination again.
During the second-set tiebreaker, Raducanu had a chance to win the set when the score was 6-5 while she was serving. However, Kalinina was able to prevent her opponent from scoring and then scored the next two points to secure her win.
The British player made 48 errors that were not forced, while Kalinina only made 22. As a result, Kalinina will face Jelena Ostapenko, who is seeded eighth, in the next match.
Raducanu mentioned that there were several factors involved.
I played a day-match after a year and it felt unusual.
I need to work on practicing my training outdoors more often. The lighting, weather conditions, and shadows can make it extremely difficult to spot the ball, which I noticed towards the end of my practice session.
"If my tennis skills are not up to the mark, I have to put up a good fight and that's what I did in the second set."
Raducanu declared that she is heading back home after weeks of consecutive touring; however, she stated that she needs to plan her tournament schedule more efficiently.
"I had difficulty with the timing of the ball," she expressed. "However, with more dedication to practice and participation in matches, I believe I'll improve."
Adapting to the demanding tour schedule is quite challenging for me. The back-to-back tournaments without any break leave me with little time to recuperate.
I have to make better arrangements for my tournaments and endeavor to play more matches.
On Monday, the first round match between Naomi Osaka, a champion of four major tournaments, and Caroline Garcia of France took place, where Osaka emerged victorious with a score of 7-5 and 6-4.
26-year-old Osaka returned to the Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open in January. She had given birth the previous year. However, she got eliminated in the first round by Garcia, who was 30 years old.
During the match in Doha, the player from Japan was trailing 5-3 in the initial set, but Garcia, who was ranked 15th, made a mistake which gave Osaka an opportunity to bounce back. Osaka capitalized on this chance and won four consecutive games, ultimately clinching the set.
At the same time, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who has won the tournament twice before, defeated Magdalena Frech from Poland 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round.
In the upcoming round, Osaka, who has not been ranked, will go head-to-head with Petra Martic from Croatia. On the other hand, Azarenka will be matched up against Xinyu Wang from China.
During the second phase, Iga Swiatek from Poland, who holds the number one position in the world, dominated the competition against Sorana Cirstea from Romania by winning 6-1 6-1 in a little over an hour.