Andreescu advances in Rome as Raducanu withdraws mid-match with back issue
The Canadian was well in command when the Briton decided she could not continue
The much-anticipated encounter between two teenage US Open champions – Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu – ended prematurely on Tuesday when the Briton retired early in the second set of their Italian Open first-round clash with a back issue.
The 19-year-old Raducanu, who was carrying a back problem into the event after her efforts last week in Madrid, was trailing 6-2, 2-1 to the Canadian when she called it a day.
“Definitely disappointed with how today went,” Raducanu said. “But I guess I wanted to give it a try. I never really knew how bad it was until I kind of went out there.
“I’m still learning when it’s right to push my body and push through it, and when’s not. I guess that’s something I’m kind of learning at these tournaments. The difference is I’m probably doing it at bigger some tournaments, not like smaller tournaments on the way up. It’s tough.”
Andreescu had been in charge from the moment she broke early in the first set, after a long first few games and Raducanu decided not to risk any further injury, with the French Open just around the corner.
Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion who has been off the Tour for much of the time since through injuries and mental health issues of her own, plays Spain’s Sara Torribes Tormo next.
The start was brutal on Raducanu as she was forced to play long service games thanks to the power and early ball-striking of Andreescu. Both women were making their debut in Rome but it was the Canadian who settled quicker, breaking again as she took the opening set.
Raducanu continued to fight but another long service game in the third game of the second set proved to be her last, the reigning US Open champion deciding enough was enough after netting a forehand to give Andreescu a 2-1 lead.
Raducanu said she had hoped the back issue would ease after Madrid.
“I guess after Madrid I thought that maybe taking one, two days off, it would just go away because a lot of the other small niggles I’ve had, they’ve kind of gone away after taking, like, two days off,” she said.
“Then I got here and I was training, but it just didn’t seem to get better. I was kind of training with some limitations. Like I wasn’t moving really, I was just playing where I knew where the ball was coming, just staying in one corner. I think I must have underestimated the unpredictability of competition in a match, you have to react.
“I felt today in the match it was just pushing too hard. Yeah, I genuinely didn’t think I could carry on because I was, like, really struggling to move. Bianca is a great player. She’s not going to let up and just hit the ball to you. Yeah, credit to her for staying on me 100 percent.”