Emma Raducanu faces French Open dilemma after Brit ‘gave up’ in latest loss

Emma Raducanu faces French Open dilemma after Brit ‘gave up’ in latest loss

Since her fairytale US Open win in September 2021, Emma Raducanu has been the golden child of British tennis. All her struggles since have been explained and excused as she searched for her form and fitness.

Even her 58-word press call at the Madrid Masters last year was put into context when she pulled out of the tournament to have wrist and ankle surgeries and missed eight months. But back in the Spanish capital this year, her worst performance of the season – and her attitude – was slammed by the usually supportive Sky Sports pundits.

Even her Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong accused her of lacking “heart”. Raducanu’s long honeymoon is finally over. The world No.221 declared she was “tired” before her 16th match of the season. And Raducanu, 21, played like it as she made 34 unforced errors and had her serve broken six times to lose 6-2 6-2 to Argentine world No.82 Maria Lourdes Carle.

Her slapped forehand on match point landed closer to the back wall than the court. Keothavong, who coaxed Raducanu to two recent wins for her country in France, said: “Emma the professional did not show up and when you do that, you don’t stand a chance. The final return was: ‘Get me off the court.’ She just wasn’t in a mindset where she was competing.

“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 just really disappointing to see. She touched on the fact that she was tired. On the one hand it is good to acknowledge it.

“But on the other hand, if you are going to go out there on the match court, you have got to be prepared to leave it all out there. And that willingness didn’t seem evident today.”

Her fellow analyst Colin Fleming, a former Davis Cup player, added: “I don’t think Emma gave it her all. It was a bit of a shock. It was tough to watch. She just wasn’t in a mindset where she was competing.”

It is not the first time her dedication has been questioned amid her commitment to sponsors. But never so openly. She attended a party in Dubai just 48 hours before her opening match at the Qatar Open in February and admitted she struggled with “everything” as she lost the first set in 22 minutes as she crashed to defeat.

Since then she has progressed – and won four consecutive matches on clay in the Billie Jean King Cup tie and then in Stuttgart before taking a wildcard in Madrid. She has no invite to Rome and is not yet qualified for the second Slam at Roland Garros.

Raducanu must decide whether to enter qualifying in Rome or Paris – or rest up and get ready for the grass. As a teenager, she famously came through qualifying in New York to win the US Open title without dropping a set.

Fleming added: “I’d love to see her go to Roland Garros and play, even if it’s qualifying. If she can take a couple of weeks now – three weeks without Rome – if she can be fit, fresh and healthy with the tennis she is playing, she can qualify.

“Of course she can. She rises to the big occasion of a Grand Slam. I think we have seen that in the past! Once you are in the main draw, who knows what can happen?”

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