Teen tennis star Emma Raducanu has revealed how she fought her team to play in the Australian Open and that every shot was painful.
British teenage tennis star Emma Raducanu has revealed the upsetting pain she pushed through to play at the Australian Open, revealing some of her team didn’t even want her to play.
The 19-year-old reigning US Open champion looked on track when she raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in round two on Thursday night.
But the 17th seed then lost five games in a row and needed a medical time-out for treatment of blisters on her right hand.
Despite battling back she couldn’t stop Kovinic winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.
Speaking after the match, Raducanu revealed she had to go against some her team’s wishes to play and every shot she hit was “very painful”.
“I have had blisters before but never this bad,” she said.
“It’s very deep and just in an awkward position that it’s so difficult to tape. We’ve tried so many different alternatives and they’ve all ended up falling off or making me have no feel of my racquet.”
Raducanu said she’d been struggling with blisters since she started playing in Australia because she had gone 21 days without playing, which made her hands soft.
“This particular one has been with me for about five days,” she explained.
“I’ve been trying to tape it for every practice and it would harden and dry out and then once I would play again another layer would just keep ripping off so it ended up being pretty deep.
“It’s a bit annoying because I know it’s something that will heal in a few days. It’s unfortunate timing.”
Raducanu was clearly deflated when explaining the situation, but acknowledged the experience would likely make her a better player.
“I did discover elements of my game I didn’t know I had before and I can use that going forwards and I just know I’ve got that fight in me even if I’ve got one shot I know I can pull myself out of deep situations.”
She said she probably had to hit more slice forehands in the match on Thursday than she had in the last few years.
“It was a bit of disbelief the shots I was pulling out or some of the rallies,” she said.
“If I can mix (my variety) with my aggressive game style I think it would be a really good and dangerous combination going forward,” she later added.
The result of the match on Thursday put Kovinic, the world number 98, into the third round of a major for the first time.
She will now play either two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep, seeded 14, or Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia for a place in the fourth round.
“I really enjoyed it out there. It was a nice experience to play Emma and make it to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time,” she said.
“Emma is a such a talent and just glad I showed I can play at her level.”
Raducanu applied pressure on the Kovinic serve right away, working a break point that went in her favour.
A comfortable hold followed then Kovinic’s sixth unforced error handed the teenager three break points to go 3-0 clear.
But the Briton lost focus and loose shots from the baseline allowed her opponent to claw a break back.
Raducanu needed a medical time-out at 3-2 and was broken again when she returned, with her serve lacking power and potency.
Struggling, she lost five games in a row before snapping the streak with a break, but it was in vain as Kovinic pounced again to take the set.
The teenager gritted her teeth and played through the pain to stamp her authority early on in the second set and take a 2-0 lead.
She needed more treatment at 3-2 but clung on, using the drop shot and slice to protect the injury as she took the second set.
Both players exchanged breaks in the deciding set before a perfect lob gave Kovinic a second break that proved decisive.
– with AFP
Originally published as British teen Emma Raducanu reveals painful Australian Open experience