Emma Raducanu suffers heavy defeat in Sydney to hamper Australian Open preparations

Emma Raducanu experienced a crushing defeat to Elena Rybakina at the Sydney Tennis Classic, winning just a single game in her first match of 2022. It was an ego-bruising return to the court for US Open champion Raducanu, experiencing her first humbling ‘bagel’ set on tour, in a 6-0 6-1 loss.

It was not ideal practice ahead of the Australian Open next week and will be a match she will want to move on from quickly, with new coach Torben Beltz on hand for the first time to help her improve.

There is much work to do though. She struggled to put her stamp on things, was broken five times and her confidence will likely have suffered a big blow after spending less than an hour on court. 

But it is worth noting she was playing only her third match against a top 20 player of her entire career, and 13th-ranked Rybakina, 22, is in brilliant form after reaching the final of last week’s Adelaide International. The gulf in experience and match practice was evident from the get-go, as Raducanu hit three double faults in her opening service game to go a break down. That rustiness was pounced upon by Rybakina, who – armed with her blistering serve – went on to win the first nine games in a row. 

Raducanu won just 13 per cent of points on her second serve, as Rybakina took time away from her with her aggressive returning and well-crafted quick point scoring to ruin the British No 1’s chances of gaining any rhythm. 

Raducanu came up with few solutions, but despite the one-sidedness, could be seen telling herself to “fight” between points and kept somewhat positive. She even betrayed a big smile and fist pump when she finally got her name on the scoreboard, to the huge relief of the crowd cheering her on. 

But there was no coming back from the huge deficit, and Rybakina was the worthy winner in just 56 minutes.

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