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A FIRST ROUND EXIT | Madrid Open: Raducanu suffers early exit, Osaka into second round with first clay-court win since 2022

IANS | Updated on Thursday, April 25, 2024 10:21 AM IST
Madrid Open: Raducanu suffers early exit, Osaka into second round with first clay-court win since 2022

MADRID: British tennis player Emma Raducanu suffered a first-round exit against World No. 82 Marie Lourdes Carle in a straight-set 6-2 6-2 at the Madrid Open.

Emma Raducanu arrived in Madrid with a string of victories under her belt. From her pivotal role in securing victory for Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup to her impressive run in Stuttgart, where she lost against the formidable Iga Swiatek, Raducanu had been riding high on success. However, her journey hit a stumbling block as she faced off against Marie Lourdes Carle, the determined Argentine with a knack for clay-court supremacy.

Despite a valiant effort to stage a comeback after trailing early in the match, Raducanu found herself grappling with unforced errors and the relentless pressure from Carle's calculated game. She trailed 3-0 before breaking through but lost 5-1 as her Argentine opponent—who had just won the WTA 125 championship at La Bisbal d'Emporda earlier this month—used her clay-court skills to control the rallies and move her opponent around. Raducanu dropped the set 6-2 and made a staggering 19 unforced errors.

An instant break back provided a rare glimpse of hope, but the mistakes kept coming as Carle scored 2-1 to make it three breaks in a row. The 21-year-old British player showed some glimpse of return, but the score marched on to 4-1 as the match quickly dragged away from her.

Raducanu attempted to rally with five break points in the next, but Carle was one point away from victory and they were all saved. Raducanu hustled to get a hold and cut the deficit to 5-2, but Carle won the final game with one of her best performances ever.

Earlier, Naomi Osaka breezed into the second round of the Madrid Open with a 6-4 6-1 win over Belgian Greet Minnen and won her first clay-court match after 2022 in 1 hour and 19 minutes long play. Osaka had managed just eight wins from 15 matches after returning to tennis in January following an extended break from the sport.

Ranked No. 69, Minnen's game plan was obvious right away: drop shots, drop shots, and more drop shots. During the opening set, the Belgian went to that well several times and was usually successful.

Although Minnen used this strategy to stave off two early break points and maintain a competitive set, it was insufficient to affect the Japanese player's service games. Osaka also got more and more prepared for the shot as the game progressed, and at 5-4, she ran up to it to nail a backhand winner. She closed out the set with a double fault from Minnen two points later.

Osaka easily won the second set after taking the first one. In the third game, Minnen had her only break point of the day, but she wasted it with a backhand slice that went wide. Both players completed with 19 winners, although Osaka had less unforced errors—23 compared to 30 for Minnen.

 

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