• “In a way the target will be off my back slightly,” she said. “I just have another chance to claw my way back up there.”
• Contracting coronavirus disrupted her pre-season, which is the time to build a solid fitness base for the months ahead, and she has been hampered by a series of niggling injuries since.
British teenager Emma Raducanu says she is looking forward to starting with a “clean slate” after an early end to her US Open title defence.
Raducanu, 19, is set to tumble down the world rankings after losing in the first round to France’s Alize Cornet.
Despite the “disappointing” defeat, she hopes she can build firmer foundations in what is still her first full season on the WTA Tour and come back stronger.
“In a way the target will be off my back slightly,” she said. “I just have another chance to claw my way back up there.”
Raducanu rocketed to fame by winning last year’s US Open as a little-known qualifier, but has found the transition to being full-time on the tour difficult.
Contracting coronavirus disrupted her pre-season, which is the time to build a solid fitness base for the months ahead, and she has been hampered by a series of niggling injuries since. As a result she has been unable to string together consistent performances.
The defeat by Cornet was her 16th defeat in 29 matches this season, which is not a bad record for someone of her age and experience, while recent positives were memorable wins over former world number ones Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati earlier this month.
Dropping down the rankings means she will miss out on seedings at the majors and will get fewer direct entries to bigger WTA tournaments.
“Losing is obviously really disappointing, really sad to leave here. It’s probably my favourite tournament,” Raducanu said. “But also I’m in a way happy because it’s a clean slate. I’m going to drop down the rankings. Climb my way back up.
“I’ve been doing some really good work in the last six weeks especially. I am looking forward to kind of putting more of those weeks together consistently, then we’ll see what happens.”
In the build-up to her New York return, Raducanu talked about using the “positive energy” of being back at the scene of her sensational success to overcome what she described as “pressures from the outside”. But it feels like getting past this point, the final marker in the annual cycle as a major champion, could lift a burden from Raducanu.
It is easy to forget she had played only three professional tournaments before last year’s US Open win and the rigours of a first full season on the demanding WTA Tour are not to be underestimated.
Losing in the first round in New York will see her drop to about 80th in the world. Perhaps it will allow the youngster to develop without as much expectation, if not away from the limelight, as she looks to create strong foundations for her career ahead.
“I’m looking forward and ready for the change that is coming. Obviously it will be more difficult at events not being seeded but, to be honest, seeds don’t even matter any more,” she said.
“If you look at the first rounds quite a few have dropped out and in the women’s game anyone can win in form. Qualifying isn’t a bad thing, like I displayed last year.”