Melbourne | Raducanu and Boulter both exit in round 2

Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter both fell in the 2nd-round of the Australian Open on Thursday afternoon on the 1573 Stadium at Melbourne Park.

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 gave myself opportunities to do that this week. I found myself winning a couple of matches a few weeks ago as well. For me, it is a massive step in the right direction. I’m going to keep working very, very hard. I know my game is there. Today it just wasn’t quite there. Katie Boulter

Raducanu lost her match against China’s Wang Yafan in dramatic fashion, unable to complete an incredible come-back and battling illness in the process, while, earlier, Boulter, the current British No 1, found Zheng Qinwen, the Chinese 12th seed, a step too far and lost in straight sets.

Having made her return to tennis a fortnight ago after missing most of the 2023 season to have three surgeries, Raducanu matched her last 2nd-round runs in Melbourne from the previous two years as she fought back from a set and a break down to force a decider, but struggled physically, and Wang took advantage to win 6-4 4-6 6-4, and book a place against her compatriot Zheng, who had earlier beaten Boulter, 6-3 6-3.

Raducanu came into the tournament saying she is a better player following her 9-month break from the WTA Tour, and she looked good in her straight-sets win over American Shelby Rogers in the 1st-round.

Wang, however, broke the Brit with her first chance in the 3rd game, as she visibly settled more quickly, and adapted better to the blustery conditions in Melbourne.

She dictated most of the points, and broke for a second time to go 5-2 up, when Raducanu whistled a backhand wide, and although the 21-year old Brit managed to win the next 2 games by getting one break back, Wang held serve to win the first set.

It continued in the second, when Wang broke her opponent straight away as Raducanu struggled with her serve.

Wang nearly made it a double break, and, at 2-0, when she held 2 break points in the 3rd game, but Raducanu came back brilliantly from 15-40 down to win the next 4 points and narrow the gap to 2-1.

It changed the course of the match after an epic 11-minute 4th game, in which Raducanu initially failed to take 4 break point chances, but then clinched it with the 5th to break for a second time to go 5-3 up.

Raducanu was hitting the ball more aggressively now, but she threw away 2 set points when 40-15 up, and Wang punished her by breaking back.


Emma Raducanu sought help from the trainer after feeling nauseous on court against Wang Yafan

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

There was another turning point when Wang offered up a 3rd set point on serve, but again Raducanu failed to take it before finally getting there with the 4th as a Chinese forehand flew wide, sending the match to a decider.

Unfazed, Wang broke immediately in the third, and Raducanu called for a trainer, feeling sick, at 0-2 down.

She looked very unwell, retching and complaining of breathing difficulties while she clutched her chest and abdomen, but she opted to carry on after having had her blood pressure checked and taking some pills.

Raducanu held 4 break point chances in the 4th game, which she failed to convert, and the next 2 games went quickly with serve.

Wang, now leading 5-3, resisted Raducanu’s last surge as the Brit held serve, but she couldn’t find the break she needed, and the Chinese won the 2nd-round thriller after 2 hours and 55 minutes.

Raducanu’s exit followed those of Boulter and Jack Draper, leaving Cameron Norrie, who battled from 2 sets down earlier to beat Giulio Zeppieri, as the only British player through to the 3rd-round.

Speaking after the match, Raducanu told reporters: “Now I feel a little bit better. During the match, I’d say in the third set I was 30-Love up serving.

“Then all of a sudden, I just felt so sick, just really weak and nauseous. Throughout the third set, I think everyone could see it was a bit of a battle.

“Like physically, body-wise, I felt fine. It was more that I was throwing up in my mouth. Then after the match, it came out. Now I’m OK. Yeah, I’ll get over it. It just sucks with the timing. I felt good. I felt fine. Yeah, I just had a bit of a bug.”

Saying that she had been determined not to retire, Raducanu added: “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.

“I think the last year off and also just with the amount of niggles and everything that I had, the setbacks, it did make me a lot tougher.”


12th-seeded Zheng Qinwen defeated Katie Boulter (L) in straight sets to make it into round 3 at Melbourne Park

© William West/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier, in the preceding match on 1573 Stadium, Boulter battled Zheng but fell short against the 21-year old World No 12.

After Zheng controlled the first set, Boulter broke for a 3-2 lead in the second, but the Brit double-faulted twice in the blustery conditions in the next to immediately give up the advantage.

Boulter was then broken for a second-straight game, her first serve continuing to desert her, and yet another double all but sealed her fate before she briefly threatened a come-back as Zheng served for the match.

The British No 1 was eventually undone after the epic final service game from Zheng, which went to a 6th deuce before the Chinese took advantage of her 6th match point with an ace.

Boulter, herself, held 6 break point chances in that same game, having earlier raced out into a 0-40 lead, but she couldn’t claim any of them, and her tournament came to a close.

Leaving Australia with the best win of her career under her belt against Jessica Pegula at the United Cup earlier this month, Boulter holds a lot of belief in her prospects for the rest of the season.

“This trip has been great,” she said. “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 gave myself opportunities to do that this week. I found myself winning a couple of matches a few weeks ago as well.

“For me, it is a massive step in the right direction. I’m going to keep working very, very hard. I know my game is there. Today it just wasn’t quite there.

“I would much rather play [her] in the third round, the fourth round, to get myself into the tournament more and more, and be playing on the bigger courts, which, ultimately, is more about the tennis than the conditions.

“So my next step for me is to challenge myself to get to 32 and push on from there.”


Zheng Qinwen needed 95 minutes to send Katie Boulter to the exit door

© William West/AFP via Getty Images


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