GMB: Greg Rusedski defends Emma Raducanu
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In her three Grand Slams so far, Emma Raducanu has already crammed in a career’s worth of incident and drama. Her Wimbledon debut saw Emma-mania sweep SW19 before John McEnroe was slammed for observing “it just got a little bit too much” when she retired in the fourth round.
The Bromley teenager then made history by becoming the first qualifier to ever win a Major at the US Open.
And now, after suffering Covid last month, the British No.1 has gone out to the world No.98 after needing a medical timeout to have a blister below her right ring finger treated and taped.
Raducanu, who had won the first three games, deployed a chipped forehand because she was unable to hit her usual top-spin shot. She grimaced with pain after some shots – and then saved a first match point with a 100mph top-spin forehand return before Danka Kovinic claimed a stunning backhand winner down the line.
Montenegro’s only Tour player won 6-4 4-6 6-3 in a bizarre encounter even interrupted in the Margaret Court Arena by a curious seagull.
Raducanu was able to smile but not shake hands at the end of her first Grand Slam defeat as a Major champion.
And the 19-year-old, who walked into her post-match press conference holding an ice pack, explained: “I have been struggling with blisters since I started playing in Australia, because 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft.
“From day one, 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 harden and dry out. It ended up being pretty deep.
“You think, like how can a small thing like a blister cause so much pain and aggravation? But it’s just the position of it. It’s right in the crease. I just can’t grip the racquet. Like every time I hit, make contact with the ball, it would create an impact.
“I have had blisters before but never this bad. It’s a bit annoying, because I know it’s something that will heal in a few days, but it’s just unfortunate timing.”
Raducanu, who had claimed she was spending “12 hours a day” at the club before this match, added: “I actually wasn’t hitting forehands in practice the last few days. I was only saving it for my match. I wasn’t hitting serves, either. So the only thing I was really practising was my backhand.”
Raducanu spoke of her pride in the “fight in me”. But the stats show she has now won only three matches in five events since her New York triumph.
And for the third time, she has also missed out on a Romania derby with Simona Halep because of an unexpected defeat.
“I don’t think you’re getting very far against Simona with a slice forehand,” she smiled. “Not gonna lie”
The French Open starts on May 22. Whatever next.
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