Emma Raducanu paid the price for a slow start as she suffered a disappointing 6-0 7-6 defeat to Anhelina Kalinina in the first round of the Qatar Open.
The Brit was completely out of sorts in a first set that lasted just 22 minutes, but drastically improved her level in a far more competitive second.
Raducanu showed great spirit to save two match points with Kalinina serving to seal the contest at 6-5, but would then miss a set point chance of her own in the tie-break before ultimately losing it 8-6.
It’s the first time in the four tournaments that Raducanu has played since making her comeback in January after eight months out injured that the 21-year-old has made an opening-round exit.
“I think I was struggling with everything, serve, return, forehand, backhand,” Raducanu told Sky Sports.
“To be honest I felt like I never really got into it. I think it was a combination of things. It’s like my first day match I think I’ve played in a year, so that’s different.
“Honestly, I think I need to practice training outside a bit more because it’s very different and also the light, conditions, shadows – it’s really hard to kind of see the ball, I found towards the end.
“When the tennis isn’t there, you have to at least try to fight and I think I did that in the second set.”
Kalinina, the world No 30, who has now won both of her WTA Tour meetings with Raducanu, will face eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko in the second round in Doha.
More to follow…
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