French Open: Raducanu loses but Norrie wins at Roland Garros

Written by The Frontier Post

PARIS (Agencies): British number one Emma Raducanu was unable to capitalise on a one-set lead as her French Open debut ended with a defeat in the second round.
Raducanu, 19, lost 3-6 6-1 6-1 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Later on Wednesday, Cameron Norrie became the first British singles player to reach this year’s third round.
Norrie, seeded 10th, earned a 6-3 6-4 6-3 win over Australia’s Jason Kubler to reach the last 32 on the Paris clay for the second successive year. Norrie will face Karen Khachanov, the 21st seed, for a fourth-round spot.
British number two Dan Evans is aiming to join Norrie when he plays on Thursday. Raducanu’s exit means there are no British women left in the singles draw, with Heather Watson and Harriet Dart losing in the first round.
Raducanu improving but still developing
Raducanu, seeded 12th, was unable to take any of five break points in the third game of the deciding set – and it proved pivotal.
Sasnovich held serve after a 13-minute game, broke in the next and that enabled her to coast to victory. The US Open champion has lost in the second round in her two Grand Slams since the win in New York last year.
Raducanu played 47th-ranked Sasnovich in her first match as a Grand Slam champion, losing in straight sets at Indian Wells last October, but said she was a “different player now”. Seven months on, Raducanu is still trying to find her feet in a debut full season on the WTA Tour which has provided significant challenges.
That learning curve has been particularly different to most teenagers beginning their careers because of the added attention that comes with being a major champion. The main hurdle has been coping with the rigours of playing full-time against the world’s best players, with a constant stream of niggling injuries hampering her progress.
A back injury was an issue going into the French Open and she seemed to be far from her physical peak as she faded badly against Sasnovich.
But Raducanu is likely to look back on her debut clay-court season with a decent amount of pride, having won six of her 11 matches on the surface. “I think overall it was a really tough match from both sides, we played some good tennis and in the bigger points she was better today,” Raducanu told BBC Sport. “I definitely think it has been a positive clay-court season and looking back I’ve learned a lot of things.”
Raducanu unable to capitalise on lead
After coming under pressure at the start of the first set, Raducanu figured out 28-year-old Sasnovich, stuck to her gameplan and was able to bring out more errors from her opponent.
While the scoreline perhaps flattered Raducanu, it seemed likely she would use the platform to maintain her confidence and potentially improve further. The teenager has proved to be a good front-runner, most notably in her US Open run, and had lost just two of the 20 matches where she had won the first set from Flushing Meadows onwards.
But something was different during the second set on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The emotion she showed during the opening set disappeared and her body language quickly changed as Sasnovich began to find the time to again start executing crisp winners.
A number of cross-court forehands proved particularly devastating at the start of the second set, with the Belarusian also showing a delicate touch to break for a 3-0 lead that she never looked like relinquishing. Raducanu nipped off court before the decider, perhaps aiming to seek inspiration from a moment of solitude.
However, she made an error with a forehand return at 30-30 in the opening game and her frustrations – hands covering her face as she bowed her head and turned away from the court – were clear. Despite that blow, she regrouped and had five chances to take the lead by breaking Sasnovich’s serve in a tense third game.
None of them could be taken as the Belarusian rallied to hold the lengthy game and from that point, Raducanu never looked like winning as her physical levels dropped.
Norrie continues winning streak in France
Norrie, 26, continued his fine form with a victory that was straightforward until he was forced to dig a little deeper in the third set against qualifier Kubler. The left-hander won the opening set thanks to a single break of serve, then took the final three games of the second set after earlier exchanging breaks with the world number 160.
Kubler, making his Roland Garros main-draw debut, showed spirit to move into a 3-0 lead but Norrie fought back brilliantly to win six games in a row and seal victory.
The British men’s number one has never reached the last 16 of a major and a deep run is his key goal as he looks to further build on a superb couple of seasons on the ATP Tour.
Norrie reached the third round at last year’s Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, but saw his hopes of further progress blocked by two of the game’s greats. Spain’s Rafael Nadal outclassed Norrie with straight-set wins in both Melbourne and Paris, with Switzerland’s Roger Federer having too much nous for the Briton on Centre Court.

But now, after breaking the top 10 earlier this year, he will be hoping his greater experience will enable him to beat Khachanov and break more new ground.

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