Emma Raducanu: Briton suffers early exit at Mutua Madrid Open against world No 82 Maria Lourdes Carle | Tennis News

Emma Raducanu’s clay-court form took a dive at the Madrid Open on Wednesday as the Brit exited the tournament after a first-round straight-sets defeat by world No 82 Maria Lourdes Carle.

Raducanu came into the contest on a high after winning four of her last five matches following excellent performances in the Billie Jean King Cup for Great Britain and the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

But the Briton complained of “feeling tired” in the build-up to Madrid and she went out at the first hurdle to Carle 6-2 6-2 on Pista Arantxa Sanchez.

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Raducanu won very few points throughout the contest, but this winner was arguably her best from an overall disappointing display

“I’m going to recharge a bit,” Raducanu said after her defeat. “From the performance today it was very clear that mentally and emotionally, I was exhausted. It’s a shame, but I guess the sport is just pretty brutal.”

Playing with strapping around the front of her left knee, the 2021 US Open champion was viewed as a strong favourite against qualifier Carle.

But the 21-year-old, who endured an injury-hit 2023, produced an error-strewn display on the clay, winning just 13/26 first serve points and 2/14 on her second serve.

Carle, who beat a pair of Aussies – Taylah Preston and Astra Sharma – to reach her second-ever WTA 1000 main draw, broke Raducanu’s serve six times to land her first WTA main-draw match win since 2022, and second-ever at a clay-court WTA event.

Fleming: Raducanu’s body language hard to understand; she didn’t give it her all

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Colin Fleming and Anne Keothavong debate whether Raducanu should play French Open qualifying or wait for the grass season after her disappointing loss in Madrid

“[I am] a little bit shocked to be honest. The second set in particular, I just thought the body language from Emma was hard to understand,” said former player Colin Fleming on Sky Sports Tennis.

“Even the break points at 4-1, it wasn’t impossible to come back with the skillsets of the two players, but there wasn’t an ounce of body language that said ‘I believe I can come back or want to come back’.

“It was inevitable from there. Very strange! I know she’s spoken about being tired and things, but on the match court, you go and give it everything you’ve got.

“And if you’re not fit enough to play, you don’t play.

“I don’t think Emma gave it her all. She didn’t compete, which was tough to watch. I have to say.”

Keothavong: Raducanu didn’t show up

Emma Raducanu, of Britain, competes against Maria Lourdes Carle, of Argentina, during the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Raducanu produced an error-strewn display at the Magic Box in Madrid

“It was a tough one. I don’t think you can analyse the tennis because Emma the performer didn’t show up today,” said British Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong.

“And if any athlete doesn’t show up ready to play, you don’t really stand a chance.

“She got off to a slow start and was never able to regroup or find her way. Credit her opponent, who came out with fire and energy and she was the one who looked up for it and was ready for the fight.

“We talk a lot about head, heart and legs, and if your head and your heart aren’t in it, your legs don’t stand a chance.

“It was really disappointing to see. She said she was tired, but do you talk yourself into more tiredness?”

Osaka wins first match on clay since 2022

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Highlights of Naomi Osaka’s opening round clash against Greet Minnen

Former world No 1 Naomi Osaka posted her first clay-court win in two years after defeating lucky loser Greet Minnen 6-4 6-1.

The four-time Grand Slam champion will face Liudmila Samsonova in the second round for the second time this year.

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The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day

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