British hopes faded at the the WTA Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz on Thursday when both Emma Raducanu and Jodie Burrage were beaten in the 2nd-round by Anna-lean Friedsam and Katerina Siniakova respectively.
I am so proud that I did it today. I played great tennis and had to be focused for every point... It is one of my biggest victories. I am happy that I find my level now again after some difficult years and I hope that I will continue like that and improve. Anna-Lean Friedsam
Raducanu, the top seed here after taking a wild-card into the WTA 250 event, suffered another injury scare in a disappointing loss to Friedsam, the World No 213 from Germany, who defeated her, 7-5 0-6 6-3, while Burrage was also beaten, losing 7-5 6-1 to Siniakova, the current doubles World No 1.
Fresh off completing the Career Doubles Golden Slam at the US Open, Siniakova came from 5-3 down in the first set to see off Burrage, a qualifier, and make her second tour-level quarter-final of the year.
Raducanu, the 19-year old British No 1, began well enough to open up a 5-3 lead in the first set over the German qualifier, who has been a top-50 player, but then lost 4 games in a row and began to look uncomfortable in her movement.
She took a medical timeout at the end of the first set, and had her left thigh heavily strapped before breezing through the second bagel set, but then she fell short in the decider after 2 hours and 21 minutes on court.
28-year-old Friedsam advanced to the quarter-finals of a tour-level event for the first time since her runner-up showing at Lyon in 2020, while prior to this week, the German had won only 1 WTA main-draw match this season.
Friedsam had defeated Raducanu 6-4 6-2 in their only previous meeting, in the 2019 Roehampton ITF W25 semi-finals when the Briton was 16 years old.
In an interview ahead of Thursday’s match, Raducanu admitted that she has been having a difficult season struggling with injuries, a back problem and health issues.
“It’s been a year full of challenges, but it was good for me anyway, because I had to adapt,” she said. “I kind of skipped that, because it’s usually the case that you first play on tour for one season and then, maybe, a bigger result comes.
“It’s a good experience for me. I obviously had a target on my back during this period, and some competitors raised their game against me, but this will only make me stronger.
“All these obligations at tournaments are new to me because, after a defeat, when you’re angry, you can’t think about it for a long time, because press conferences follow.
“Off the court, however, I feel like all the things I do are scrutinised or even exaggerated. People like to talk.”
After 3 breaks in the first 4 games, Raducanu settled first, and moved out to a 5-3 lead, but 4 set points came and went, two on the Friedsam serve and two on her own, and then, when serving at 5-6, the teenager clutched her left leg.
With her movement visibly hampered, Friedsam took advantage to seal the first set with a drop-shot, but Raducanu was rejuvenated after returning from the medical time-out with her leg strapped.
The opening 3 games of the second were an electrifying series of 7 deuces, with most points ending with clean winners from all corners of the court by both, but a net-rushing Raducanu was able to win them all, and she wrapped up the set without losing a game.
They settled into a solid rhythm on serve in the decider, with no break points for either through the first 7 games, but the German found an extra gear, capturing the crucial break for 5-3 with a fizzing return winner and then found another clean backhand winner on her first match point.
Raducanu is the second Briton that Friedsam has taken out this week, having dispatched Harriet Dart in the 2nd-round of qualifying.
Friedsam also managed to reach the Last 8 despite being bagelled twice – in her 1st-round match, she lost the first 9 games against Elizabeth Mandlik from the USA before recovering for a 0-6 6-4 6-1 win.
“It was a great victory for me,” Friedsam said after the match. “I am so proud that I did it today. I played great tennis and had to be focused for every point.
“In the second set I felt she was a lot more free and, I felt I did, like, two percent of what I can pull back. Then it went fast. I am happy that I came back.
“It is one of my biggest victories. I am happy that I find my level now again after some difficult years and I hope that I will continue like that and improve.”
Raducanu, who is due to play in South Korea next week, saw her ranking plummet to 83 following her 1st-round US Open loss, but she should regain a few spots courtesy of Monday’s win over Dayana Yastremska.
The British No 1 has also signed up for the Transylvania Open, where she reached the quarter-final in the inaugural tournament last year, which starts on 10 October 10 on the indoor hard courts in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Friedsam will next play Diane Parry, the Frenchwoman having moved into her 2rd career quarter-final after overturning a 5-1 first-set deficit to defeat 9th-seeded Anastasia Potapova from Russian, 7-6(2) 6-4.
The other top half quarter-final features Siniakova against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, who fought her way past home favourite Kaia Juvan, 5-7 6-2 7-6(5).
Paolini, who is the defending champion here, has now won 7 straight matches in Portoroz, and overcame Juvan after a 2 hour 22 minute battle.
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and 2nd-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia are the highest ranked players left in the event.
Meanwhile, Raducanu publicly paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death, sharing emotional words while posting an Instagram story at the end of last week showing a group of mourners in London.
“Honestly, it’s very sad,” she told teniskisvet this week. “When I heard the news, I couldn’t believe it, because she was a solid pillar and compass for me, as indeed for all British people.
“Everything around was changing, but she remained a constant. She led our country and, indeed, the world in a very strong way. Britain will be mourning for quite some time.”
Raducanu received a personal letter from Queen Elizabeth II last year following her US Open triumph: “I send my congratulations to you on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships. It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.
“I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players. I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters. ELIZABETH R.”
Raducanu told the BBC at the time: “It meant everything to get a message from Her Majesty.
“She’s such a great inspiration and role model for the whole country so to have a note from her, I was extremely honoured and very very grateful that she took notice of my tennis.
“I can’t believe it. I’m maybe going to frame that letter or something.”