Emma Raducanu starts 2022 season with brisk two-set defeat to Elena Rybakina

By Matt Majendie

Emma Raducanu got her 2022 ambitions off to the worst possible start as she picked up just one game against Elena Rybakina.

Raducanu has had a difficult build-up to the Australian Open. She got Covid while out in Abu Dhabi playing before Christmas.

And she subsequently pulled out of her first warm-up event on Australian soil to help regain full form and fitness for the Australian Open.

Playing in the Sydney International against No9 seed Rybakina, she struggled to find any sort of rhythm in a 6-0, 6-1 defeat, avoiding the ignominy of a double bagel as she briefly stopped the rot with a solitary game win late in the second set, which warranted a wry smile from the 19-year-old.

She won half the points of her opponent and just half the points on her first serve, plus a little over 20 per cent on her second.

(AFP via Getty Images)

The result leaves Raducanu a little short of game time going into the Australian Open on Monday. On Tuesday, she was announced as the tournament’s 17th seed, which should in theory give her an easier opening match than world No12 Rybakina.

Sydney was the first tournament of the British No1 working with new coach Torben Beltz, who had been with Raducanu to preparing for 2022 in an Abu Dhabi training camp when she contracted Covid.

But the pair’s first competitive match as a partnership lasted just 55 minutes for what is set to be Raducanu’s first full-time season on the WTA Tour.

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