Emma Raducanu’s defense of her US Open women’s singles title ended early as the British teenager suffered a 6-3 6-3 first-round defeat to experienced French rival Alize Cornet in New York on Tuesday.
Raducanu, 19, stunned the tennis world by emerging from qualifying to win the title at Flushing Meadows last year – ending her country’s 44-year wait for a female Grand Slam singles champion.
The ensuing year has seen seen a glittering array of sponsorship deals but Raducanu’s time on the court has often been characterized by frustrations from inconsistent form and injury irritations.
Against the 32-year-old Cornet – a shrewd operator who counts world number one Iga Swiatek among her Grand Slam scalps this year – Raducanu hustled and harried at a blustery Louis Armstrong Stadium, but found her French rival consistently had an answer for what she threw at her.
Raducanu had to take a medical timeout to deal with blisters at the end of the first set, and responded by opening up a 3-1 lead in the second set.
But Cornet – whose appearance meant she broke the women’s record for consecutive Grand Slam appearances with 63 – used her guile to rein Raducanu back in, breaking back at the next opportunity and doing so twice more to see out the set and the match.
The loss means that Raducanu is set to tumble from her current WTA rating of number 11 as she drops the points she was defending from last year’s title success.
Speaking afterwards, the Brit said she would be content to work her way back up the rankings.
“It is a clean slate. I can just start again,” said Raducanu.
“I don’t know what my ranking will be. Probably pretty low down. With perspective, actually as a 19-year-old, I’ve had not a bad year.
“To be top hundred, if you told me that a year ago, I’d take it.”
Cornet, ranked number 40 in the world, moves on to face Czech player Katerina Siniakova in the second round in New York.
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