The Belarusian world number 100 was the strongest player from start to finish in an error-ridden performance from the 18-year-old Bromley-based who saw her crash 6-2 6 -4 in just one hour and 25 minutes.
Speaking at her post-match press conference, Raducanu admitted she was second best. She said:
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“Aliaksandra played a very good game. You could tell she was more experienced than me, executed her game plan better than I did and deserved to win.
“You get sharp playing games and I’m not tight right now. I haven’t played competitively in a month since the US Open, and that (the sharpness) will come from playing week after week.
“So what do I have to work on?” I’ll probably go back and watch the game again, probably tomorrow and watch it with clarity. From there, I can plan. It’s going to take a while for me to adjust to what’s going on. I’m still so new in everything. The experiences I’m having, I mean, I might not feel 100% amazing right now, but I know for the greater good and the bigger picture, I will be grateful for this moment.
That’s the lesson, you can easily get carried away by being so focused on the outcome and being disappointed. But I’m 18 and I need to relax a bit. “
However, Sasnovich had other ideas and followed a firm hold of two moving to love, with a sumptuous lob picking his points.
Raducanu struggled to craft her opponent’s play and looked like the shadow of the player who produced such impeccable tennis throughout her New York run with 12 unforced errors that marred a disappointing first match for the Briton . The 18-year-old was again easily beaten in Game 7 and the Belarusian aptly served a one-sided first set on her second opportunity in just 30 minutes.
A long opener to kick off Set 2 was also on Sasnovich’s side, but just as it looked certain she was certain to clear herself, nervousness set in with a pair of double faults which allowed the Briton to back down.
Suddenly Raducanu had the momentum and she took a 4-2 lead, only to allow the lower ranked player to turn things around once again with a sudden increase to three games in a row. Sasnovich then served the match to secure a famous victory.
Soaking up the applause during his interview on the pitch, Sasnovich said: “It’s very special. It’s the best tournament for me, it has the best food and the best people. I really like to play here. I understood that I had to come to the court, play tennis and be 100%. Emma just won the US Open and I lost in the first round! I just tried to do my best and came to enjoy it.
Looking ahead to facing Simona Halep in the third round after the Romanian defeated Marta Kostyuk 7-6 6-1, she added: “She is a great champion. It will be an interesting game. Anyone Can Beat Anyone.
As for Raducanu, the loss could be a blow to her WTA final qualifying hopes in Mexico and the teenager may well step up her search for a full-time coach with Carlos Rodriguez, who helped Li Na on. his way to the 2014 Australian Open title, billed as the frontrunner for the role.
Former Britain number one Anne Keothavong, who heads the British Billie Jean King Cup squad, felt there were several factors behind Raducanu’s poor performance but is confident the youngster will learn from the loss.
“You can put it down to expectations, you can put it on three weeks, different tournament, different circumstances, different conditions, it was never going to be easy and Sasnovich made life difficult for Emma,” he said. Keothavong said on Amazon Prime.
“She got into a good position, she was leading 4-2 in the second set but she played a terrible serve game to allow Sasnovich to come out of it and never really gain a foothold and it was just a mistake after error after error, the body tongue and shoulders were slumped, not enough fire in Emma.
“She just needs to go and relax and calm down. This is going to be difficult for her to take on, she herself would have had high expectations, the confidence, wanting to show everyone what she was capable of, but it is the case. Back to the drawing board.
“She’s still new to all of this, she still has a number of tournaments before the end of the season so it’s time to get things going, to work on her game. She knows she could have done better, she could have done better, she could have done. had a better presence, but maybe one not to think too much about.
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