Emma Raducanu is optimistic about competing in Rome next week despite a back injury as she withdrew from the Madrid Open after a three-set loss to Anhelina Kalinina.
Raducanu was moody and muscular in a first set that lasted just 35 minutes, after which she briefly left the court for a medical time-out after grabbing her a few times.
Amazingly, she looked rejuvenated afterwards and took advantage of Kalinina’s lower levels to force a decider, only for the unranked Ukrainian to win 6-2 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes. .
Raducanu will now wait to find out if there are any lingering issues with her back before deciding whether to go to the Italian Open, but she is hopeful about her condition.
“To be honest, I had a bit of trouble with my back,” Raducanu said. “Throughout the week, I’ve had a few issues, and it’s only taking its toll.
“I don’t know yet what I’m going to do, if I’m going to go home already or directly to Rome. The plan right now is to go to Rome again.
“I don’t know when I start. Maybe Monday or Tuesday. I hope it’s enough time because it would be a real shame to miss it.
“I feel pretty positive. Most of the time with me it’s just an overload, then two or three days of complete rest and I’m ready to start training again.
While Raducanu suffered from some minor issues in the Spanish capital, where she was ranked ninth, the US Open champion believes there are positives to be taken from the past few days.
Raducanu, who only made her first senior clay appearance last month, was particularly heartened by her fierce fightback on Tuesday night, albeit in a losing cause.
She said: “I feel like I’m going through this and my body is building with every game I play. It was a great two and a half hour training session, which is going to help with my physical development.
“I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made over the past few weeks and I think I’ve definitely done something to build on and continue to build on.
“I feel like my mentality and my outlook on how I approach things right now is much better.”
An epic spanning over two hours – including a grueling 63-minute final set – didn’t seem to be on the cards when a listless Raducanu was broken down by love on his opening service game.
Kalinina – who beat Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza to reach this stage, losing just three matches to the latter – simply overpowered Raducanu in a one-sided opening set.
Reflecting on the treatment she received that followed, Raducanu said, “I don’t know what magic they worked, but I had a numb back for the second and third sets, so I couldn’t feel anything.”
There was no doubt that Kalinina’s levels had plummeted in the second set, but Raducanu ruthlessly took advantage to level the third round match with the momentum seemingly on his side.
Kalinina found her range again but this time Raducanu refused to back down and they traded fierce blows, with the world No. 11 struggling 3-1 to win three games in a row.
But with both players looking tired, Kalinina produced a sublime sharp backhand that proved just out of reach to secure the decisive break before sealing victory in the following game when Raducanu flew wide.