Australian Open 2024 results: Emma Raducanu loses to Wang Yafan

For any player coming back from such a long absence, it takes time to reach match sharpness and patience with their progress will be required.

With Raducanu, given the long list of physical and mental struggles she has endured since winning the 2021 US Open, even more caution is necessary.

Therefore it was unsurprising – but not necessarily worrying – to see Raducanu suffer physically in the deciding set of an intense battle with 94th-ranked Wang.

The way she scrapped throughout a three-hour contest, and showed glimpses of her undoubted quality, was encouraging and admirable.

In a testing breeze, Wang played precisely and smartly in the first set as Raducanu was made to pay for a slow start.

The former British number one was unable to recover from going a double break down and lost serve again in the first game of the second set.

When Raducanu faced two more break points at 1-1, it felt as though Wang’s solidity would be enough to win in straight sets.

But there was plenty to admire about Raducanu’s response.

She managed to increase her level, put an extra spring in her step, and immediately broke back for 2-2 at the fifth attempt.

When Wang again served into the wind at 4-3 down, Raducanu stuck in another baseline duel and finished off a 24-shot rally with a crosscourt forehand winner to move a break up.

Getting over the line was difficult. But competing on the biggest stages of all is where Raducanu wants to be and she showed her resilience.

Raducanu missed two set points on her own serve, but took a fourth opportunity in the next game to force a decider.

Both players took a breather before the third set started and Raducanu handed over an early advantage by missing a forehand which she would expect to put away.

Then came the breathing difficulties and feeling nauseous. When she trailed 2-0, she required an assessment from the doctor and the prescribing of some tablets.

Still Raducanu refused to give in. Four more break points came and went for the Briton before Wang served out to reach a Grand Slam third round for the first time.

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