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Emma Raducanu exits Australian Open after painful second-round defeat by Danka Kovinic

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-20

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Emma Raducanu has been knocked out of the Australian Open after losing to Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 4-6, 6-4, 3-6 in the second round at Melbourne Park.

Just like her first-round match against Sloane Stephens , Raducanu started fast, rattling off three straight games before the momentum drastically turned. The Montenegrin hit back with five straight games of her own as Raducanu began to suffer from blisters to her right hand, requiring an early medical timeout. Kovinic capitalised on her momentum to close out the first set as the US Open champion was left to ponder her gameplan.

To cope with the pain, Raducanu smartly resorted to a number of forehand slices and drop shots to shorten each point. And it worked well as she snatched a break early in the second set despite some booming first serves from Kovinic.

Raducanu served at 4-3 with a chance to move to within a game of levelling the match, but Kovinic kept her cool to break back. Firstly Raducanu squandered a chance at the net, failing to control a forehand smash, leaving her to grimace afterwards, only for Kovinic to dispatch a similar opportunity of her own and eventually see out the game.

Raducanu suddenly rediscovered her forehand at 4-4 as the pain started to ease. She claimed the vital break and ruthlessly served out the second set, mixing up her game with both an exquisite lob and a booming serve to draw level in the match.

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Service proved tough to hold for both players in the third set with Raducanu unable to level at 2-3, following a cruel net call before Kovinic's perfectly weighted lob reestablished the break, and Kovinic seized upon her chance with Raducanu looking dejected, this time holding in quick time to force the US Open champion to serve to stay in the championship. And although she did so, Kovinic held her nerve to clinch victory and a place in the third round.

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Reacting to her victory and the first third round of a Grand Slam in her career, Kovinic said: “It was amazing, I really enjoyed it. It was a nice experience to play against Emma.

“I didn’t even think beyond the first round, which was really tough. It was regular preparation for every match. She had an amazing result winning a Grand Slam at such a young age, she’s such a talent.

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“I was a little bit low with my energy through the third set. I wanted to focus on myself, not show emotions when winning or losing, saving energy for the last set.”

Kovinic will now play the winner of 14th seed Simona Halep vs Beatriz Haddad Maia.

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