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Emma Raducanu crashes out of French Open in second round to Sasnovich

Emma Raducanu crashes out of French Open in second round to Sasnovich

In the face of an at times inspired opponent who rained down winners for the better part of an hour, after a positive start Emma Raducanu was unable to survive a mid-match intensity drop and she was blown off the court and out of the French Open. After just over two hours on court, Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus emerged as the clear victor, beating Raducanu 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the second round at Roland Garros.

The defeat against the world No 47 means that after five months of the season, Raducanu moves onto the grass court season with just two top 50 wins this year, an indication that the higher-ranked players are slowly beginning to target the weaknesses in her game.

Sasnovich is a player of some pedigree, a former top 30 player who led Belarus to the Billie Jean King Cup final in 2017. After falling out of the top 100, this year she has rebounded well, halving her ranking to her current spot at No 47.

Unlike the damp, miserable and slow conditions of Raducanu’s three set first round win over Linda Noskova, the pair arrived on Court Suzanne Lenglen to clear blue skies and a dry heat, meaning the ball flew through the air and rewarded those with the nerve to attack. Early on in the encounter, that player was Sasnovich who set the tone in the rallies against an extremely constrained Raducanu who was particularly passive and ineffective with her forehand.

The Belarusian, however, took a while to realise how tentative Raducanu’s forehand was and she continually targeted Raducanu’s backhand, playing it into a smooth rhythm. As Raducanu slowly began to unleash with her strength, she broke serve for 3-2 after a spectacular return game, leaning into two consecutive brilliant backhand cross-court winners before snatching the break with a winning forehand down-the line. She navigated through her remaining service games to take the set.

After the euphoria of the opening set, Raducanu fell into a familiar pattern as her intensity dropped immediately. As her opponent’s ball speeds dropped off and she struggled with her serve, Sasnovich took control of the baseline from the second set. By the end of the set, Sasnovich was teeing off on all returns and burying winners at will.

Since Sasnovich finished the second set with an absurd 19 winners to just four unforced errors, the remaining question was whether Raducanu could rebound to push her out of her rhythm. She had one chance, generating five break points during a long, tense 1-1 game as she played her most authoritative tennis of the set.

But as the deciding set wore on, Sasnovich viciously hunted her forehand when it mattered. Raducanu shanked a forehand to give up the first break at 3-1 and throughout the set, Sasnovich ate up the passive, loopy topspin from that wing. In the end, Raducanu’s positive clay court season ended with two feeble sets.

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