PARIS (Reuters) -U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu was bundled out of the French Open in the second round on Wednesday, losing 3-6 6-1 6-1 to inspired Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
The 12th seeded Briton, who had to dig deep in her opening match to come from a set down to beat Czech qualifier Linda Noskova, faded badly after a strong start as her inexperience on clay was exposed by her opponent.
“I still have got quite a long way to go on this surface,” Raducanu, who played her first pro match on clay as recently as last month, told reporters.
“I had a good first experience on clay and definitely can improve a lot more than I play right now.”
“It just takes a lot more to win the point on this surface. For the clay season I had no expectations. I put myself in four tournaments in a row thinking I will lose in the first round. I won a few matches in each.”
She was initially surprised by world number 47 Sasnovich’s attacking power.
Sasnovich was hitting the ball early, moving the Briton across the court before 19-year-old Raducanu responded in kind with some aggressive hitting.
After dragging her opponent wide of the court she earned a key break to lead 4-2 and bagged the opening set when she fired a superb cross court winner.
Undaunted, Sasnovich raised her game in the second set to race into a 4-0 lead with a mixture of power and craft.
The Belarusian, who had never gone past the second round in Paris, bagged the second with yet another break and then fought off multiple break points early in the deciding set before taking control, breaking for 3-1 when Raducanu sent a wild forehand five metres over the baseline.
Raducanu, who had been struggling with a back injury in recent weeks, could do nothing to turn the tide.
A dominant Sasnovich put her out of her misery with a sizzling backhand down the line on her first match point after two hours.
Despite the defeat, Raducanu said she would take plenty from it.
“Before I would let the losses affect me more than right now,” she said. “Now I look at everything as a lesson and know exactly where I went wrong and where I can improve.
“I definitely look at these matches as a way to improve my own game. I am playing good tennis, training well.
“It might not show straight away. There is a little time lag between when they will actually produce results, you know, on a live situation.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Martyn Herman)