EMMA RADUCANU’s involvement in the Australian Open was ended in straight sets by Coco Gauff as her second-round slam syndrome continued.
On her first appearance on the expansive Rod Laver Arena – another career milestone – the Brit was defeated 6-3 7-6 by the ferocious-hitting world No7 in Melbourne.
GettyEmma Raducanu is out of the Australian Open[/caption]
ReutersThe Brit struggled to find her best form and made lots of errors[/caption]
AFPCoco Gauff had to defend but prevailed 6-3 7-6[/caption]
In five Slams since she magically lifted the US Open against all the odds, the 20-year-old from Bromley has found the second match of a major to be quite troublesome.
It is her misfortune on this occasion she had to encounter a top-10 player so early in this tournament.
This defeat was no embarrassment as Raducanu – who was seen frequently touching the left side of her stomach – more than matched the intense baseline ball-striking of her opponent, who lost in last year’s French Open final to Iga Swiatek.
But if she is to establish any form of longstanding rivalry with Gauff – who is two years the junior – then she will need to find a more consistent serve and cut out the double faults and unforced errors that marred this loss.
Like in her first-round win on Monday over Tamara Korpatsch, Raducanu had white tape protecting the left ankle that she had rolled less than two weeks ago in a tune-up tournament in New Zealand.
Two days ago, there was nothing to suggest that this issue was hindering her movement as she progressed in straight sets against the German rookie.
Gauff, of course, represented a far different proposition, a much higher step-up in class in this prime-time occasion on one the biggest arenas in the sport.
And her greater experience and match-nous was evident when the Florida teen unpicked the Raducanu serve in games four and six to give herself a significant stranglehold of the opening set.
Though a persistent Raducanu carved out three chances in the ninth game to break, the American held her nerve and eventually clinched the first set in 43 minutes.
In the second set, the Kent ace was handed one almighty lifeline when, out of nowhere, Gauff briefly turned into an amateur player and produced a pointless service game.
Raducanu even had two set points to take this into a decider but on the first attempt, her backhand was long – and for the second, the sliced dropshot effort failed to make it over the net.
Gauff, who like Raducanu has a highly academic background, showed her superiority and defensive masterclass in the tie-break to make the third round of Slam for the ninth time.
It is easy to forget how little tennis Raducanu has played since she passed her A Levels in 2021 and the accumulation of different injuries have taken their toll.
Yet she will now return to the UK and hope that with an extended block of training with new coach Sebastian Sachs, she can head into Paris, Wimbledon and New York and smash through this second-round ceiling.
GettyThe left ankle remained heavily strapped but it was her serve that was struggling[/caption]
GettyGauff delivered high-quality tennis but faltered in the second set[/caption]
AFPThe American served brilliantly especially in the second set[/caption]
ReutersThere was a classy embrace between the two competitors at the net[/caption]
GettyRaducanu waved goodbye in the second round of a Grand Slam once again[/caption]