Brit’s title defence ends in the first round following a straight-sets defeat by world No. 40 Alize Cornet under the lights in New York
New York(USA)- Emma Raducanu’s reign as US Open champion is over, and she will abruptly return to the ranks after a first-round defeat to French veteran Alize Cornet.
On a windswept night in New York, the Kent teenager could not replicate the extraordinary events of twelve months ago and ceded the trophy for the first time.
Cornet won 6-3 6-3 in 102 minutes, and although there was plenty of resistance, it was not backed up by sufficient consistency in tricky conditions.
The versatile, unpredictable game of the talented veteran proved too much, with Raducanu making 31 unforced errors in a match full of them. She could not find her serve and joined the many illustrious names who have fallen to Cornet over her long career.
Raducanu was perhaps hindered by the resurgence of blisters on her finger, but it might not be a bad thing for her ranking to now settle at a level which will require rebuilding.
Indeed, the pressures will be less as she goes down to around 80 after this, more than 2000 points having dropped off her computer tally.
Raducanu had been waiting nearly 50 weeks for this moment and was obliged to hang on for a further half hour due to an overrun to the day session on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
She might have expected an immediate return to Arthur Ashe but had to settle for the secondary arena on an evening which had strong winds with a hint of rain in the air.
Cornet was one of the more difficult draws the British player could have had, ranked just outside the seedings at number 40 and in strong form this summer. Her run of playing 63 consecutive Majors began when Raducanu was aged only four.
The defending champion received a roaring ovation when walking onto the court with tape on her fingers immediately noticeable. From the outset, it was clear how the gusts would be a major factor.
With the wind coming from behind, Cornet threw in two double faults at the end, playing towards the Mets stadium, and Raducanu went a break-up.
That end, which had an ex-Wimbledon champion, Virginia Wade, near the front, was difficult to hold from, and Raducanu immediately broke back.
There were five breaks in the first set, although both players did a good job controlling the ball. Cornet’s excellent touch saw her hit three exquisite lobs to frustrate the British number one when she was in a winning position.
Raducanu broke back at 4-2 but then struggled to control the ball to fall behind again, and Cornet just about closed it out to become the first player to take a set off the Kent teenager at Flushing Meadows.
The end of the set prompted a familiar call from Raducanu from the physio to tend to her blisters, which also reared up nearly nine months ago in Australia.
After the hiatus, she was broken straightaway but levelled when Cornet appeared partially distracted by the roof closing overhead with raindrops starting to fall.
Three games went the teenager’s way to reach 3-1 as the double faults ratcheted up from the French player, but the kind of Raducanu Roll seen a year ago did not materialise.
There is still much work to be done before becoming the finished article, and the process could be easier living more in the shadows.