Emma Raducanu suffered defeat in her second match since returning from injury on Thursday, losing 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 to Elina Svitolina to exit the Auckland Classic in the second round.
Having undergone wrist and ankle surgeries last May, Raducanu spent eight months on the sidelines before returning to the court this week as she builds towards an appearance at the Australian Open.
The former US Open champion overcame Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the first round at Auckland to set up a meeting with second seed Svitolina, and she made a flying start by racing into a 5-1 lead in the first set.
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Raducanu was pegged back and needed a tie-break to take the opener, then missed her chance of victory in another tie-break in the second set, going 3-1 up before the Ukrainian reeled off six straight points.
Svitolina never looked back from there, taking the decider in just 31 minutes with Raducanu visibly tiring.
While Svitolina will now face the Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova in the Auckland quarter-finals, Raducanu’s focus will turn to the Australian Open, which starts on January 14.
Unforced Errors: 2️⃣6️⃣
— wta (@WTA) January 4, 2024
Despite dropping to 301st in the world rankings during her injury lay-off, Raducanu will not have to go through qualification for the first grand slam of 2024.
She was able to enter with a special ranking of 103 due to her long-term absence, and several withdrawals – including those of Petra Kvitova, Karolina Muchova and Irina-Camelia Begu – have handed her a direct route into the main draw.