Qatar Open: Emma Raducanu knocked out in first round by Anhelina Kalinina

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Emma Raducanu paid the price for a slow start as she suffered a disappointing 6-0 7-6 defeat to Anhelina Kalinina in the first round of the Qatar Open.

The Brit was completely out of sorts in a first set that lasted just 22 minutes, but drastically improved her level in a far more competitive second.

Raducanu showed great spirit to save two match points with Kalinina serving to seal the contest at 6-5, but would then miss a set point chance of her own in the tie-break before ultimately losing it 8-6.

It’s the first time in the four tournaments that Raducanu has played since making her comeback in January after eight months out injured that the 21-year-old has made an opening-round exit.

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Raducanu said she ‘struggled with everything’ during her opening-round defeat at the Qatar Open.

“I think I was struggling with everything, serve, return, forehand, backhand,” Raducanu told Sky Sports.

“To be honest I felt like I never really got into it. I think it was a combination of things. It’s like my first day match I think I’ve played in a year, so that’s different.

“Honestly, I think I need to practice training outside a bit more because it’s very different and also the light, conditions, shadows – it’s really hard to kind of see the ball, I found towards the end.

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Emma Raducanu got off to the worst possible start as she lost the opening set 6-0

“When the tennis isn’t there, you have to at least try to fight and I think I did that in the second set.”

Kalinina, the world No 30, who has now won both of her WTA Tour meetings with Raducanu, will face eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko in the second round in Doha.

How slow start cost Raducanu

Raducanu began the match with undoubtedly the worst set she has played since returning from injury.

The 2021 US Open champion lacked energy and gifted game after game to Kalinina, who needed to do little more than keep the ball in court.

Raducanu won just 10 points and made 15 unforced errors as the opening set ended rapidly.

Raducanu vs Kalinina: Tale of the Tape

Raducanu Match Stats Kalinina
4 Aces 3
4 Double Faults 0
55% 1st serve win percentage 60%
33% 2nd serve win percentage 72%
2/2 Break points won 5/15
29 Total winners 17
48 Unforced errors 22
57 Total points won 76

Her poor form looked set to continue as Kalinina broke in the opening game of the second set, but Raducanu finally discovered the fighting spirit, if not form, she has become known for.

Weight was added to her groundstrokes as an immediate break back secured a first game of the match, before she followed it up with a first hold to go ahead.

While her tennis was far superior during the first set, the now steady flow of winners was still interspersed with errors, which brought her under pressure on serve.

Raducanu produced a series of stunning winners to save five break points at 3-3, but failed to escape trouble when under pressure once more at 5-5.

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Raducanu began to found her rhythm early in the second set

Kalinina appeared to have completed the job as she went 40-15 up serving for the match, but she made an error before Raducanu drilled a forehand down the line to force deuce.

The Brit would then take advantage of her opponent’s frustration to seal a break, forcing a tie-break.

Raducanu earned the chance to set up a decider when a strong return gave her a set point on serve at 6-5, but she was outlasted by Kalinina in the longest point of the match, and would perhaps regret not having been slightly more aggressive with some forehands during the rally.

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Emma Raducanu is knocked out of the Qatar Open after a straight sets 6-0 7-6 defeat to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina

Another brilliant point followed, with Raducanu missing a cross-court backhand to an open court to bring up another match point for Kalinina.

This time the Ukrainian wouldn’t be denied, forcing a backhand error from Raducanu to end an epic 77-minute second set.

Robson: Raducanu must cut down unforced errors

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Sky Sports Tennis’ Laura Robson and Marion Bartoli take a closer look at what went wrong for Emma Raducanu after she crashed out of the Qatar Open at the first round stage.

Laura Robson on Sky Sports Tennis:

“Forty-eight unforced errors – that’s where you start when you debrief the match.

“How do you cut the number down in future matches? Yes, she did bring the number down as the match went on but it was almost a bit too late because Kalinina had a bit too much confidence in her backhand as the match went on.

“That was really the story.

“As soon as Kalinina was able to rip the backhand cross-court, Emma wasn’t able to get enough width on her forehand and that affects the depth.”

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