Emma Raducanu put up a valiant effort but ultimately bowed out of the Madrid Open after a see-saw three-set defeat against unseeded Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.
Raducanu was out-of-sorts and outmuscled in an opening set that lasted just 35 minutes, after which she briefly left the court for a medical timeout having clutched her back on a couple of occasions.
Amazingly, she seemed rejuvenated and took advantage of an error count creeping up from her opponent to take the third-round match to a decider, only for Kalinina to hold her nerve and prevail 6-2 2-6 6-4.
The wins keep coming 🙌
— wta (@WTA) May 3, 2022
While Kalinina can look forward to a quarter-final showdown against Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann, Raducanu, seeded ninth in the Spanish capital, can take some solace for her dogged determination.
“I want to give credit to Emma because I think we both played very good quality, the match was great in my opinion,” Kalinina said afterwards on Amazon Prime.
“I appreciate in this moment I was maybe luckier and I did better in the decisive points. I am happy I won this match.”
An epic spanning two hours and 19 minutes – including a gruelling 63-minute final set – did not seem to be on the cards when a listless Raducanu was broken to love in her opening service game.
Kalinina, who lost just three games in beating former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza earlier this week, simply overpowered Raducanu in a one-sided first set where the Briton, wearing strapping on her upper left leg, appeared to be troubled by a back problem.
While the reigning US Open champion had no answers to her rival’s groundstrokes on both wings, but particularly her impressive backhand, Raducanu was much improved in the second set following some treatment off court.
There was little doubting Kalinina’s levels had dropped and Raducanu ruthlessly took advantage to level proceedings with the momentum seemingly on her side.
Kalinina found her range again but this time Raducanu refused to buckle and they traded ferocious blows, with the world number 11 battling back from 3-1 to reel off three games in a row.
But as both players seemed to fatigue, Kalinina produced a sublime acute backhand that proved just out of reach to get the decisive break before sealing victory in the next game when Raducanu volleyed wide.