After her 6-4 4-6 6-4 defeat to China's Yafan Wang in Melbourne, Emma Racucanu says: "The amount of niggles and everything that I had, the setbacks - it has made me so much tougher. There was no way I was going to pull out"
Thursday 18 January 2024 20:00, UK
Emma Raducanu says her year-long injury absence has made her tougher, despite suffering with illness in her second-round loss to Yafan Wang which ended her Australian Open early.
Despite illness late into her match, Raducanu believes her performances in Melbourne have given her a "good starting point" for the rest of the season.
Raducanu, who made her return to tennis only two weeks ago after missing most of the 2023 season to have surgery on both her wrists and one ankle, succumbed to a 6-4 4-6 6-4 defeat when visibly troubled in the third set.
The 21-year-old said that when serving in the opening game of the decider she "all of a sudden felt so sick" and that she was "really weak and nauseous".
Raducanu added: "Throughout the third set I think everyone could see it was a bit of a battle.
"Physically, body-wise, I felt fine. It was more that I was throwing up in my mouth. Now, I'm okay. I'll get over it. It just sucks with the timing."
Asked if her illness saw her close to stopping the contest, Raducanu pointed to her lengthy break from tennis in 2023 as her motivation to continue.
"I've been in that situation before in matches, whether it was with illness or injury, and retired a few times," she said.
"I couldn't really see the ball very well, but with everything I went through last year - the amount of niggles and everything that I had, the setbacks - it has made me so much tougher. There was no way I was going to pull out.
"She was going to have to beat me, and she did. She served it out."
She added: I was actually feeling good about my tennis. I would say I felt physically good. And mentally, I don't know why, I just felt really composed the entire time.
"Even in the first set when I was making a ton of errors with the wind, I kind of always had this feeling that I was coming back... I felt pretty composed throughout."
Raducanu's exit means that for the third-straight year she has failed to make it past the second round in Melbourne, but the former US Open champion says she is "feeling very positive" about her return from injury so far.
"There were doubts whether I would be able to make the Australian Open trip," she said. "I think that to be here is a bonus, a good starting point.
"As I've said before, I'm more focused on my level and the practice days, rather than focusing on win or loss. I know the difference between me playing okay, me playing good or me playing great is really in the details, like doing a few things just five per cent better.
"The encouraging thing is, even though I played back-to-back three-setters in Auckland [warm-up tournament] and a three-setter today, body-wise, strength-wise, I didn't come up with any random niggles. It was just me throwing up. That's not normal, it's a one-off."
Raducanu wasn't the only British hope to be knocked out in Melbourne on Thursday, with both of Jack Draper and Katie Boulter also falling at the second-round stage.
Draper lost 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5 to 14th seed Tommy Paul, while women's British No 1 Boulter was beaten 6-3 6-3 by 12th seed Zheng Qinwen.
Despite their early exits, both have set their sights on being seeded at Wimbledon this summer.
"When you are playing a top player like that, if they're playing well, there are very small margins in it," Draper said following his defeat, before adding: "I feel fit... I'm very motivated to keep getting better.
"Hopefully, by grass [season], if I keep my form up, keep giving myself the opportunities to compete, then I'm going to be hopefully seeded for Wimbledon. That's my goal now."
Boulter said: "This trip has been great. For me it's about week in week out playing these girls, trying to get big wins against the best players in the world.
"I'm going to keep working very, very hard. I know my game is there. Today it just wasn't quite there.
"My next step for me is to challenge myself to get to 32 [in the world] and push on from there."
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