When Emma Raducanu, the British number one, lost in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, she was troubled by severe physical problems.
Raducanu was defeated 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. He had hoped to win three straight matches for the first time since winning the US Open in 2021.
Raducanu, the world’s number 11 player, fought back courageously, but Kalinina rebounded and won.
As Kalinina tightened up with victory in sight, Raducanu saved a match point, but hit long, giving the Ukrainian another chance, and then volleyed wide.
Raducanu’s back problem, though, is merely the most recent physical problem she’s had to contend with in her first full year on the WTA Tour.
In January, she lost a second-round match at the Australian Open due to a blister on her racket hand, and in February, she retired due to a thigh injury following a difficult first-round match in Mexico.
Due to a blister on her foot, the British teenager’s Billie Jean King Cup debut was cut short last month, prompting her to bathe her feet with surgical spirit every day.
Despite the loss, Raducanu smiled as she walked off the court, claiming that her stay in Madrid had taught her a lot.
Despite only making her senior clay-court debut last month, the world number 11 has continued to appear at ease on a surface she believes she can thrive on.
The teenager, who is now without a full-time coach after separating from Torben Beltz, showed her problem-solving skills in the second set as she fought back against Kalinina.
When Raducanu returned to court after treatment, she changed her tactics to combat Kalinina’s heavy return, and it worked.
In the second set, she changed her serving strategy to dominate and force a decider, nailing 78 per cent of her first serves and making only one unforced error.
That proved crucial as Kalinina served out to advance to the quarter-finals, where she will face Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, who has already beaten three Grand Slam champions in Madrid, including Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza.