Australian Open: Raducanu 'won set with basically one shot' after defying blister woe to play

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Emma Raducanu revealed members of her support team proposed she should abandon her Australian Open campaign before Thursday's defeat to Danka Kovinic.

The 19-year-old US Open champion was badly affected by a blister on her right hand as she slid to a 6-4 4-6 6-3 defeat on Margaret Court Arena.

Raducanu made a strong start in the opening set before the pain began to kick in, and she said she won the second set "with basically one shot" after being unable to consistently club heavy ground strokes.

But Raducanu could not maintain that level into the decider, suffering her first grand slam defeat in a completed match, having previously pulled out injured during a Wimbledon fourth-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic before streaking to a sensational first major in New York.

Raducanu did not specify who exactly had suggested she ought not take to the court, but said: "There were some people in my team that maybe didn't want me to play."

A recent case of COVID-19 interrupted Raducanu's preparation for her first major since teaming up with new coach Torben Beltz.

"Because of 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft," Raducanu said.

She explained blisters had begun to form on her hand in training soon after arriving in Australia, with the current problem – "right in the crease" – having been affecting her since just prior to the Australian Open beginning.

The problem has been getting worse rather than better and Raducanu said the blister had become "pretty deep".

"It's a bit annoying," she said, "because I know it's something that will heal in a few days. It's just unfortunate timing. I have had blisters before but never this bad. It's quite deep, and it's just in a very awkward position that is so difficult to tape."

She said every shot was taking a toll on the blister, with the friction meaning each impact was "very painful".

The forehand slice became a big shot for Raducanu, and it was to her credit that she almost eked a win out of such difficult circumstances.

In the end, world number 98 Kovinic found ways to overcome a hampered opponent, setting up a daunting third-round clash with Simona Halep.

Raducanu said: "I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me. I discovered tools about myself and my game that I didn't know I had before. That slice forehand is not so bad, and I have some sort of hand skills. That was a positive surprise.

"To get that second set with basically one shot, I can't believe it really.

"Because I'm still young, I feel like I can learn a backhand, I can learn some sort of tactics, but it's quite hard to learn or teach someone that fight and grittiness to hang in there when things are pretty much all against you. So, I'm quite proud of that."

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