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‘My team didn’t even want me to go out there’ – Raducanu’s head high in defeat despite missing out on plum Halep clash
The British star will have to wait for the opportunity to face Halep on the big stage
Bloodied, beaten, but unbowed, Emma Raducanu left the Margaret Court Arena on Thursday evening eliminated from the Australian Open – but having told the world much more about her grit and attitude.
She revealed after the match that some people on her team had not wanted her to take to the court at all because of severe blisters to her right hand.
Despite taking an early lead against Danka Kovinic, the US Open champion could not hold on to it, and took medical time-outs to get replacement taping on her hand and fingers. Unable to hit her serve or her forehand properly, she was left with few options. She employed the slice to excellent effect, taking the second set and forcing a decider, but she began to tire in the final set, with her backhand starting to fall away as well, ultimately losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
The 19-year-old explained to the media afterwards that she had been suffering with blisters since arriving in Australia; she had had an enforced time away from the court after testing positive for Covid-19 in December, which also meant she had to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition. That meant three weeks without holding a racquet.
“My hands got pretty soft,” she explained. “From day one, day two [in Australia], I was getting blisters pop up here and there. This particular one has been with me for about five days, and I have been trying to tape it for every practice, and it would like harden and dry out, but then once I would play again, another layer would just keep ripping off. It ended up being pretty deep. It’s a bit annoying, because I know it’s something that will heal in like a few days, but it’s just unfortunate timing.”
Raducanu – I fought so hard
And she added that the thought of retiring from the match had crossed her mind – but some of her team hadn’t wanted her to even play in the first place.
“I have had blisters before but never this bad. It’s quite deep and it’s just in a very awkward position that it’s so difficult to tape. We have tried so many different alternatives, and they all end up falling off or making me have no feel of my racquet, so it’s trying to find that balance.
“Of course, that thought [of retirement] when I was slicing forehands and really struggling, I was, like, you know, ‘Do I?’ But I didn’t want to – some people in my team didn’t want me to even go out there. So I fought so hard just to come out to Australia and play here, and I didn’t want to go out like that. So I just left it all out on the court, yeah, after everything I kind of went through.”
Halep in best form in a while
Take nothing away from Kovinic, who played well to reach her first-ever third round at a Grand Slam. She now has another former Slam champion to face: Simona Halep, who was in immense form as she brushed aside Beatriz Haddad Maid 6-2, 6-0. The Romanian may only be seeded 14th at this tournament, having slipped down the rankings after persistent injury last year, but she looks to be a force to be reckoned with.
Raducanu had to laugh and admit she was relieved that she wasn’t going to have to play one of her idols with only a slice forehand in her armory: “Yeah, I don’t think you’re getting very far against Simona with a slice forehand. Not gonna lie.”
The Romanian had to wait all day to play her match, stepping on the Rod Laver Arena after the conclusion of the four-set match between Daniil Medvedev and Nick Kyrgios, and was unsurprisingly tired and not particularly talkative after her win. She did, however, say that she thought she had just played her best match in a long while. It was a comment and a display ominous for the rest of the field.