MELBOURNE, Australia — Emma Raducanu bowed out of the Australian Open at the hands of No. 7 seed Coco Gauff on Wednesday, but there may be lingering concerns about Raducanu’s fitness after the British No. 1 clutched at her left side throughout the 6- 4, 7-6(4) loss.
Early in the second set of the second-round matchup with 18-year-old Gauff, Raducanu began to feel at her side, winning in pain as she struggled to maintain power in her strokeplay.
A couple of double faults, and some uncharacteristically meek first serves only added to the intrigue surrounding her condition as Gauff opened up a second set lead.
Despite appearing to be hampered by the abdominal issue, Raducanu did manage to shake off the concern to rally in the second set; from 2-4 down she clawed her way to a 5-4 lead — blasting winners with power she seemingly lacked just games earlier — before Gauff responded to take the set to a tiebreaker.
From there, a couple of unforced errors allowed Gauff a look at four match points, the third of which the American converted to secure passage into the third round.
The loss rounds out a frustrating two weeks for the Brit, who retired from her second-round match at the ASB Classic in Auckland after rolling her ankle. For a brief period after, Raducanu’s Australian Open campaign was in doubt, but she declared herself fit on the eve of the tournament.
After the match, Raducanu wouldn’t be drawn on speculation of a side strain, but admitted her « limited practice » in the leadup to the Australian Open did hamper her ability to be in peak physical condition.
« I think the limited practice time (I had), it’s difficult to play matches and be in that sort of condition [to play]but I think we did a great job to get on the court this week, » Raducanu said.
« Thirteen days ago … with what I had… the chances of me playing this tournament were very, very low. I had extremely limited practice time, and I think I can say that now I’m not competing anymore, but it was going to be a push to get me on the court.
« I have that vision of myself being an aggressive player, » Raducanu said. « I think that I didn’t want to get out there into really long extended rallies with her in the condition I’m in, either. »