US Open: 'The target will be off my back' – Raducanu welcomes 'clean slate' after defeat

·2-min read

Emma Raducanu tried to focus on the positives after seeing her US Open defence ended at the first hurdle, suggesting "the target will be off my back" as she prepares to tumble down the WTA rankings.

The teenager sensationally won at Flushing Meadows in 2021 without dropping a set, yet that remains her sole Tour-level title a year on.

And any hopes of a remarkable repeat were swiftly dashed by first-round opponent Alize Cornet, who brushed the 11th seed aside 6-3 6-3 on Tuesday.

But Raducanu is relishing the opportunity to build her career again without her status as a reigning major champion.

"[It is] obviously really disappointing, [I am] really sad to leave here," Raducanu said afterwards. "It's probably my favourite tournament.

"But also, in a way, [I am] happy, because it's a clean slate. I'm going to drop down the rankings, climb my way back up.

"Yeah, in a way, the target will be off my back slightly. Yeah, I just have another chance to claw my way back up there.

"I've been doing some really good work in the last six weeks especially. [I am] just looking forward to putting more of those weeks together consistently, then we'll see what happens."

Indeed, Raducanu claimed her 2022 season might have been considered a success had she not set such a high standard in New York last year.

She has played two quarter-finals this year, losing to Iga Swiatek in Stuttgart and Liudmila Samsonova in Washington D.C.

"It is a clean slate. I can just start again," Raducanu said. "I don't know what my ranking will be – probably pretty low down.

"With perspective, actually as a 19-year-old, I've had not a bad year. To be top 100, if you told me that a year ago, I'd take it.

"But I think it would be nice in a way to just start over, start fresh. Off the court, I don't think it will make much of a difference, to be honest."

She added: "I actually think, for me, the most exciting thing is trying to do well at each of the different tournaments.

"Regardless of what it is – it sounds weird – [as] US Open defending champion, obviously it would have been great to defend the title, but I want new experiences.

"In a way, I've kind of done that [winning the US Open], so I want another tournament.

"It doesn't really matter what it is. I think any player would be happy to win a tournament. I think it makes a massive difference, no matter what the level is."