Briton blown away in straight sets by Italy's Giorgi
US Open champion suffers second set collapse
Raducanu to play in Cincinnati next ahead of Flushing Meadows title defence
Emma Raducanu slumped to a straight sets defeat against reigning champion Camila Giorgi at the National Bank Open in Toronto, and admitted she needed to get better at coping with the pace of play at the top level.
The first-round loss marked less than ideal preparations for world No 10 Raducanu, 19, as she looks towards her US Open title defence later this month.
It was a disappointing early exit for Raducanu's debut in Toronto, the city she was born in before moving to the United Kingdom as a toddler. The one hour 49-minute 7-6(0), 6-2 loss followed a similar pattern to her quarterfinal defeat at last week's Citi Open to Liudmila Samsonova in Washington, DC, where she was hampered by blisters on her hands.
There, after losing a tightly fought first-set tiebreak, Raducanu wilted against her opponent's power of momentum and superior experience. The exact same format played out against Italy's Giorgi.
World No 29 Giorgi - like Samsonova - is a tough opponent who has proven hard to get past for other top-ranked players this season. She is a big-hitter who plays high-risk tennis, sometimes erratically but other times to great effect. So it proved on Tuesday, and with the victory it means she has won seven of her last nine meetings against Top 10 opponents.
"I think it was a really good match, to be honest," Raducanu said afterwards. "I think that the level was pretty high. Especially in the first set. And Camila is a great opponent. She won this tournament last year. I just need to get better at dealing with players who play probably as quick as she does."
Raducanu was up a break in both sets, but Giorgi, 29, was on a mission to keep her grip on her tennis crown in Canada, the setting of her greatest career title last season when the WTA 1000 event was played in Montreal. The first set was hugely competitive because of each players' flakiness on serve.
There were six breaks in the first eight games, neither able to capitalise on any advantage they took as they traded blows from the baseline. It culminated in a tiebreak, but at this point Raducanu fell away, and Giorgi won it 7-0. Raducanu briefly looked like she was launching a comeback, and worked her way to a dogged 2-0 lead in the second set, but Giorgi somehow flipped a switch and turned up the heat thereafter.
She broke back and evened up the score at 2-2, and then won a remarkable 17 consecutive points to set up match point, wrapping things up at her third attempt. Her aggressive approach became unplayable, but Raducanu also shrunk away from the fight where she had previously leaned into gruelling points earlier on in the match. As Giorgi pummelled fierce topspin shots her way, Raducanu appeared dejected. Giorgi hit 31 winners (and as many unforced errors), while Raducanu managed just three.
The match raised more questions for Raducanu, who is looking to wipe a "clean slate" after New York. Since her remarkable victory last September, the British No 1 has found it tricky to navigate her way past similarly ranked opponents to Giorgi, who she beat with ease during that fortnight.
On paper, Raducanu should be beating a player of Giorgi's calibre, but based on her level of experience and wavering form she has understandably found it difficult to score wins. Her 2022 record stands at 10 losses and 14 wins on tour, suffering first-round exits in Sydney, Guadalajara, Miami, Rome, Nottingham and now Toronto. Since she started working on a “temporary basis” with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov last month she has two victories and two losses to her name.
With Cincinnati's Western & Southern Open next week likely her final opportunity to get matches under her belt and continue to trial Tursunov in her camp, the countdown to the biggest tournament of Raducanu's season in New York is truly on.
But while her career remains in its infancy, with barely a full season of tour-level experience under her belt, she was asked to reflect on veteran Serena Williams's impact on the sport. While Raducanu said she had only ever exchanged a couple of hellos with Williams, and briefly practised on adjacent courts on Tuesday morning in Toronto before rain thwarted their preparations, she said she was "inspired" by the 23-time champion's longevity.
"It's incredible, her career," Raducanu said. "She has achieved so much. And to see her around in this US swing is really inspiring. She keeps playing because she obviously loves the game. I think that longevity of a career is something that a lot of the players and me especially we aspire to achieve as well. "She definitely changed the game. To dominate that much, there's not really been someone who has dominated like her in the women's game."
Emma Raducanu loses to Camila Giorgi, as it happened
Some stats to worry Raducanu
She only won 42 per cent of points on her first serve.
And one that follows on from that stat, she was broken six times.
She wasn't able to build any momentum in that match and subsequently she has no positive momentum heading into her US Open title defence.
Raducanu is next due to play in Cincinnati
That was a poor performance from the US Open champion - there's no point in dressing it up. However, this is still her first full year on tour and she's having to learn fast when coming up again players such as Giorgi - a power player who gives you chances, but who can, as she did, use her aggression to completely blow you away. I am not sure you get many of those types of players at Bromley Tennis Club...
It's one big learning curve for Raducanu, but that defeat does leave a fair few questions.
On the win...
"It was a great match, it's great to be back in Canada."
On her aggressive approach...
"This is my game, I will always play like this, sometimes it doesn't work but it's how I play."
Giorgi beats Raducanu 7-6, 6-2
Girogi's run of consecutive points ends at 17. It doesn't matter, though, as two points later she deservedly secures the win.
Two very different sets - both posing some tough questions for Raducanu. The first set offered lots of chances in a stop-start affair. And then in the second set she was simply blown away and looked increasingly tired.
Giorgi* 7-6, 5-2 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Girogi is getting more and more confident, she's on the front foot every point now putting Raducanu's serve under increasing pressure. The Italian again has three break points and AGAIN HOLDS TO LOVE. That's 13 points in row and to say Emma's body language isn't great is an understatement of huge proportions.
Fair play to Giorgi - she's gone up about a zillion gears since going 2-0 down in this set.
Giorgi 7-6, 4-2 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
There's been a significant shift in this match now. Giorgi - who could barely hit a first serve in the first set - holds to love. That's nine points in a row for the Italian and it's looking as though Raducanu is leaving early from Toronto unless she can turn this around now, she has no time to spare.
Giorgi* 7-6, 3-2 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
That break two games ago seemed more than just a little momentum busting and so it's proved. Some absolutely blistering winners from Giorgi - power-hitting of the highest order, as I said when she gets it right some of her groundstrokes are unreturnable - means she breaks a despondent-looking Raducanu to love this game. Yep, you read that correctly, to love...
Giorgi 7-6, 2-2 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
Giorgi has this game in the palm of her hand at 40-0 but her gameplan is clearly, see ball and hit it as hard as possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. On the balance of this game it JUST about works following up two long forehands with a winner. The Italian holds to 30.
Stop-start from both players at the moment
Giorgi* 7-6, 1-2 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
There are too many unforced errors coming from the racket of Giorgi (22 in that first set). She's at 15-30 in this game when she slaps a forehand into the net under no pressure at all. She repeats the the trick two points later, when she has a break point.
At deuce, however, the Italian shows the other side of her game, coming in off the baseline hitting another blistering backhand crosscourt winner. Raducanu is under pressure BUT a fine first serve gets the game back to deuce. But a great forehand (that Emma does well to reach) earns the Italian another break point before a volleyed winner earns her the break.
Not what was needed from Emma who, until that game, had held serve three times in a row...anyone else want to scream?
Giorgi 7-6, 0-2 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
There haven't been many long rallies in this match and both must be finding it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. This game, like so many before it, is very stop-start, it's a loose game with errors aplenty. But with a break point Raducanu won't mind that, not least because a Giorgi forehand into the net then earns Emma her fourth break. She has control of this set early on - it's vital she holds serve now.
Giorgi* 7-6, 0-1 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Raducanu does what she needs to do in this opening game of the second set - hold serve. It wasn't without the odd worry BUT she holds to 30. Phew...
Giorgi hit her way to that first set
Giorgi takes the first set 7-6 (7-0)
This is only the ninth tie-break Raducanu has played at tour level - just to put into perspective how early she still is into her career. Perhaps that explains her poor start in this tiebreak - unforced errors help Giorgi race to a 4-0 lead.
From there the Italian plays one of her brutal forehand winners - she really doesn't hold back - to make it 5-0. Another follows making it 6-0 and Giorgi takes the first set - thanks to a final-point double fault from Raducanu - after a gruelling, and somewhat scrappy, 71 minutes.
That wasn't great from Raducanu there - the Italian has some powerful groundstrokes but not the consistency you'd expect from a top player and the Briton couldn't find a winning formula that set.
Can she make good on that poor first 71 mins this coming second set? Let's hope so...
Giorgi 6-6 Raducanu - into a tiebreak...
Raducanu starts this game well, served well under pressure and racing to a 30-0 lead. But then her first serve lets her down and it's back to 30-30. Two points later that's deuce and the pressure really is on the Briton...
A good second serve gives her the advantage before another brilliant forehand return winner from Giorgi puts the pressure back onto Raducanu. She falters as Giorgi wins the next point to earn a set point BUT nerves fail the Italian as off a Raducanu second serve she hits a backhand return way long.
At deuce Raducanu then hits the winner of the match so far - Giorgi had all the court to aim for, hits a decent forehand but the Briton is onto it like a flash playing a blistering crosscourt forehand winner. She makes no mistake from there.
That was a fighting hold from Emma.
Giorgi 6-5 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
Shock horror! Giorgi holds to love. Not sure where that confident service game came from from the Italian but it's come and means that once again Raducanu will have to serve to stay in the set.
Giorgi* 5-5 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Raducanu is 30-0 when Giorgi hits a blistering forehand winner - that sums up what the Briton is up against, a player who blows very hot and very cold in the same game. That winner is followed up by a very wayards forehand two points later and Emma holds to 15 without much fuss.
Emma in action in Toronto
Giorgi 5-4 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
Giorgi races to a 40-0 lead before Raducanu gets her groundstrokes flowing once again - getting it back to 40-30. But the Italian holds her nerve and she'll make the Briton serve to stay in this first set.
Giorgi* 4-4 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Big game for Raducanu here. She's down 0-15 early - thanks to a backhand into the net - and that's soon 0-30 as Giorgi creates pace from the back of the court, taking the ball on the rise and smacking it into the corner for a well-worked winner. The Italian is continuing her aggression hitting a lot of her returns inside the baseline and that tactic is continuing to work well for her as it helps her win the next point for three break points...
Two better Raducanu serves follow and two short rallies result - they save Emma two break points and the same good first serve saves the third.
At deuce a Giorgi forehand into the net gives Raducanu the advantage. But having come into the net the Briton cannot nail a backhand smash (possibly the toughest shot to hit tbf...) and it's back to deuce.
Giorgi really doesn't hold back with her groundstrokes - one goes long to give Raducanu the advantage, the next then is a brilliant backhand winner to get it to deuce again...Another great winner from the racket of the Italian earns her another break point but Raducanu's first ace again gets it back to parity.
Break point No.5 follows for the Italian and she makes no mistake to break back.
Giorgi 3-4 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu is growing into this match, her return of serve is getting better with every service game of Giorgi and a great forehand off an Italian serve earns her a break point. She's dominating the next point, moving the ball around the court until a poor forehand into the net gets the game to deuce.
Raducanu earns her next break point the next rally - again thanks to some decisive groundstrokes - and from there she makes no mistake to take a 4-3 lead. Can she make this break count?
Giorgi* 3-3 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Having seen Giorgi hold her serve the pressure is on Raducanu here. She starts the game well, getting to 30-0 thanks to a forehand down the line winner. That's followed up with a big first serve that the Italian cannot deal with, to make it 40-0 and another loose return allows Emma to hold to love. That was impressive from the US Open champion.
Giorgi 3-2 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
There are a fair few errors out there at the moment - not just the serving. As if weary of the poor showing Giorgi makes a decisive move on her serve, coming into to the net and hitting a winner. She then repeats the trick the next point to hold serve.
After five games we have a hold of serve!
Giorgi* 2-2 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Perhaps aware that her serve is shaky at the moment Giorgi is being very aggressive with her returns putting pressure onto Raducanu's serve. Two blistering returns, both hit well inside the baseline, get the Italian to 15-30 before a poor volley into the net makes it 15-40. After 20 minutes we've already had seven break points...
Another well-hit return from Giorgi, which puts Emma onto the back foot for the duration of the following rally, allows her to break to 15.
Giorgi 1-2 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
Giorgi is under pressure on her serve once again, she just cannot get any consistency with her ball toss. Raducanu has two break points, the Italian saves the first before a 'frame' ball off the Briton's racket saves her the second.
At advantage Giorgi's double faultitis strikes again and it's back to deuce. A forehand winner from Emma is followed by a wide forehand from the Italian and Raducanu breaks again.
Again, it's early days, but if Raducanu can can hold serve here the advantage would seem to be bigger than just a simple 'break'.
Giorgi* 1-1 Raducanu (*denotes next server)
Both players are hitting decent groundstrokes, lapping up the pace on the ball. Raducanu is under pressure early on her serve at 15-30, Giorgi hitting her returns deep and with intent.
The Italian earns two break points after a wayward Raducanu forehand and is back to parity the very next point. That was impressive from Girogi, coming back from the early break with some hard-hitting strokes.
It's early days, but it looks as though it might be easier to break than hold serve this match...
Giorgi 0-1 Raducanu* (*denotes next server)
The defending champion serves first and early on it's clear she likes the pace she's receiving off the racket of Raducanu. She races to a 40-0 lead before a double point gets Emma on the scoreboard. Another double fault follows and it's 40-30 and that's soon deuce thanks to a long backhand from the Italian.
The third double fault of the game gives Raducanu a break point and, low and behold, the Briton breaks first up.
Not to be mean to Emma, but she didn't have to do much to win that match - Giorgi's serve was all over the place.
The match is about to get under way
Let's see how Raducanu can do - fingers crossed the blisters stay away...
Raducanu came onto court with a smile on her face
That's worth a blog post because, let's face it, it's been a tough year for the Briton but whatever has come her way - from early losses, injuries and now blister problems - she always has a smile on her face. That's an underrated characteristic both in life and sport.
The two players are out on court
And the coin toss has taken place, Giorgi will serve first.
They are talking about Camila Giorgi on Amazon Prime
By 'them' I mean Anabel Croft and Sam Smith...and they say of the Italian...
You just never know with Giorgi, she can blow hot and cold...but can be dangerous.
So there you go.
Who is Camila Giorgi?
The 30-year-old hails from Macerata in Italy and is currently ranked 29th in the world. She's been as high as 26th and has won three titles, the most recent of which came in Montreal - in this tournament - last year.
Emma Raducanu excited about the coming challenges
By Uche Amako
Welcome to coverage from the Canadian Open as Emma Raducanu plays Camila Giorgi.
It is Raducanu's first visit to Canada as she continues her build-up to the US Open at the end of the month. Her preparations suffered a blow last week when she was beaten in the Citi Open quarter-finals to lower ranked Liudmila Samsonova. Nevertheless, Raducanu insists she is excited about defending her title in New York.
"I just love New York as a place, as a tournament, as a city," she added. "I love everything about it. So I'm really looking forward to just going back there and whatever happens, I think it's going to be a nice close to a chapter, to go full circle and then, regardless of whatever the result is... it's a clean slate.
"If all my points drop off, then I'll work my way back up."
Since New York, Raducanu has played in 16 tournaments and been knocked out by a lower-ranked player 14 times. Her 2022 record stands at: P23, W10, L13, suffering first-round exits in Sydney, Guadalajara, Miami, Rome and Nottingham. She has also struggled throughout the year with injuries and in Washington last week, was hampered by blisters on her racket hand.
Speaking in an interview with the Telegraph, Dr Bella Smith, a NHS GP partner and co-founder of female athlete health hub, The Well HQ, said blisters are caused by repeated exposure to trauma and friction.
“Sometimes we just don't know why blisters happen, some people are just really sensitive to them,” she said. “A blister is a form of defence. Its purpose is to create a fluid to try and protect itself from the trauma and ultimately then it gets calloused and thick.
"The fact that Emma’s are related to one area recurrently – her racket hand – means it will be related to trauma, friction and heat. It’s basically a burn and they can be really difficult to solve, because tennis is her job, and it can be really difficult to manage.”
Stay here for all the action from Toronto.