After her encouraging run to the semi-finals in Korea a fortnight ago, Emma Raducanu reverted to her pre-existing pattern of early exits on Tuesday when she lost to world No 11 Daria Kasatkina in Ostrava.
It was an unkind draw for a first-round match, against a woman on course to reach the WTA Finals in Texas. However, despite the 7-5, 6-4 defeat, there was a lot to like about Raducanu’s performance, including a determination to come forward and take the ball on.
Pundits and coaches have asked all year whether she has a game plan. After her US Open exit, seven-time slam champion Mats Wilander told Eurosport “she hasn’t quite found her identity as a player”.
He went on to ask whether Raducanu wanted to be an aggressive shotmaker or a grinder – and the answer was clear enough as she mixed screaming winners (24) with ambitious misses. It was not a winning formula on this occasion, but the intent was good to see.
Raducanu’s best game came as Kasatkina served for the first set at 5-4. She hit two winners off the forehand wing – the side that has been disappointingly vanilla all year – to break back. Unfortunately, she then missed a number of first serves, letting Kasatkina retake the initiative.
As Raducanu moves on to Romania next week there is still so much she needs to work on, including her endurance. Another issue was a lack of ruthlessness against Kasatkina’s milk float of a second serve. The ball almost seemed to be moving too slowly for Raducanu to time it.
But these are all learning experiences for the Briton, who does at least seem to be swinging with greater freedom now she is ranked at a more appropriate level of No 67.
Raducanu vs Dasaktina: As it happened
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A disappointing day for Raducanu in Ostrava. She will be in action next week at the Transylvania Open. The field isn't as strong there so maybe a deeper run will be possible.
Can't argue with this assessment
Emma Raducanu beaten 7-5, 6-4 by a very good Daria Kasatkina in Rd 1 in Ostrava.
Raducanu hit the ball well, scrapped hard, but Kasatkina had the answers - angles, variety, counter-attacking and power when required.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) October 4, 2022
Numbers reflect Raducanu's struggles
24 winners but 28 unforced errors from Raducanu. No double faults but just two aces.
Won just 35.7 per cent of points on her second serve. Only 35.8 per cent of return points won.
This tournament is so tough. When you see the list of the names playing here, whoever you get is a very tough opponent. So you have to be very focussed and be ready from the first match, the first match.
I am happy with my performance and ready for the next one.
The winning moment for Kasatkina
— wta (@WTA) October 4, 2022
Raducanu 5-7, 4-6 Kasatkina
Raducanu forehand winner, 15-15. Short second serve by Kasatkina and this time Raducanu gets it right with her forehand which she blasts away for a cross court forehand, 15-30.
Raducanu forehand return into the net, 30-30. Kasatkina with a brilliant forehand pass after Radcanu threw everything at her, match point. Kasatkina forehand into the net, deuce.
Raducanu backhand into the net, second match point. GAME SET MATCH KASATKINA. Wide Kasatkina serve and Raducanu's backhand is wide.
Another early defeat for the British No 1.
Raducanu 5-7, 4-5 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu gives herself one last opportunity to break Kasatkina after a love hold. Can she do it?
Raducanu* 5-7, 3-5 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Back-to-back unforced errors from Raducanu, 30-0. Raducanu steps in to attack another Kasatkina second serve but her backhand return is long, 40-15.
And Kasatkina moves a game away from victory after a forehand winner down the line. She's been too good and too consistent today.
Raducanu 5-7, 3-4 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Better controlled shotmaking from Raducanu and a second ace of the match gives her the game.
Raducanu clearly has more power but is making far too many errors. If she can limit those errors, she can get back into this. But she is running out of time...
Raducanu* 5-7, 2-4 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
The errors are flowing from the Raducanu racket and it is allowing Kasatkina to move clear. She is not making Kasatkina work hard enough.
A forehand return into the net and Kasatkina holds to 15 to consolidate the break.
Raducanu 5-7, 2-3 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Problems for Raducanu as she slips to 0-30 with a backhand error. Forehand long by Raducanu and it's now 0-40.
Raducanu saves the first. But not the second as she puts a forehand into the tramlines.
Raducanu* 5-7, 2-2 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Raducanu doesn't do enough with drive backhand and she is punished by Kasatkina, who lobs her easily, 30-15.
And Kasatkina holds with a forehand winner into the corner.
Raducanu 5-7, 2-1 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu has struggled with her overheads today but she gets it right twice in this game which moves her to 40-30.
And she holds when Kasatkina pulls a forehand long.
Raducanu* 5-7, 1-1 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Raducanu goes after another Kasatkina second serve but gets it wrong on this occasion when her forehand is long, 30-15.
Better from Raducanu has she places a backhand winner into the corner, 30-30. But Kasatkina holds when Raducanu's defensive forehand is just long.
Second Set: Raducanu 5-7, 1-0 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Effortless tennis by Kasatkina as she moves Raducanu left, right and left again before finishes with a forehand winner that Raducanu didn't have the legs to move for, 15-15.
Raducanu dumps a backhand into the net, 30-30. Relief for Raducanu as Kasatkina's forehand goes wide and she is able to hold.
17 unforced errors in the first set proved costly for Raducanu.
Raducanu* 5-7 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Raducanu backhand down the line is into the net, 0-15. Raducanu backhand volley into the net, 0-30. She should have made that.
Three set points for Kasatkina after Raducanu's return is long. Raducanu saves the first. But after 51 minutes, Kasatkina claims the set with Raducanu buries another return into the net.
Uphill taks for the Briton now.
Raducanu 5-6 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu snatches at a forehand and the ball goes into the net, 0-30. Too good from Kasatkina as she takes charge of the rally and finishes with a forehand winner, 15-40.
Well played by Raducanu to save the first with a backhand volley winner on the stretch. But she is wayward with another forehand and that miss means we have a third break in a row.
Kasatkina will serve for the set again.
Raducanu* 5-5 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Forehand by Kasatkina goes long, 15-30. An opening here for the Briton. Raducanu pushes Kasatkina wide with an angled backhand and the Russian's reply is wide, 15-40.
Kasatkina saves the first with a cross-court forehand winner. And the second when Raducan nets a forehand return, deuce.
Another break point for Raducanu after another huge forehand winner. Another entertaining rally and Raducanu comes out on top as she finishes with a forehand winner. She's up to 15 for match.
Five games apiece and on with go...
Raducanu 4-5 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Kasatkina is on the move here. She blasts a forehand down the line for a winner, 0-30. Raducanu then puts a forehand long, 0-40.
Raducanu gifts the break to Kasatkina when she nets a forehand. Raducanu should be hugely frustrated by how that game got away from her. Kasatkina will serve for the set next.
Raducanu* 4-4 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Yikes. Raducanu goes for a high drive forehand but completely shanks it and the ball flies well wide, 15-0. Now Kasatkina shanks a forehand long, 30-30.
We get to deuce for the first time in the match after Raducanu puts away another forehand for a winner.
Magnificent finish to the game by Kasatkina as she places a backhand down the line for a winner. Big 'come on' from the Russian.
Raducanu 4-3 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu forehand winner, 15-15. Forehand by Raducanu into the net, 40-30. Haven't had a deuce in the match so far.
And we don't in this game as Raducanu keeps herself in the point, chases down a Kasatkina forehand and whips a forehand down the line winner.
Raducanu* 3-3 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Kasatkina gets back on track with a hold to 30. Deep breaths from the Russian, who is under the cosh from Raducanu.
Raducanu 3-2 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Rally of the match: Raducanu stays patient and blasts a backhand past Kasatkina, 15-0. Raducanu backhand cross court winner, 30-0.
Another well controlled volley by Raducanu and Kasatkina's defensive lob drops wide. And Raducanu moves ahead with Kasatkina nets a forehand return.
This has been an excellent response from Raducanu.
Raducanu* 2-2 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
More attacking tennis by Raducanu and she finishes at the net again with a nice volley, 0-15. Double fault by Kasatkina, 0-30.
Big forehand down the line by Raducanu, Kasatkina gets a racket on it but the ball sits up nicely for Raducanu to finish with a backhand winner, 15-40.
Kasatkina saves the first break point. But not the second as Raducanu steps in on a slow second serve and drills a backhand winner down the line to break back.
Raducanu 1-2 Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu takes charge of the opening point and pushes Kasatkina wide, the Russian puts up a lob but Raducanu fails to get her feet in position and mis-hits an overhead into the net, 0-15.
Good recovery from Raducanu as she moves to 40-15 with a forehand winner. Brilliant lob by Kasatkina over the head of Raducanu, who sprints back but the ball bounces beyond her.
Raducanu gets her first game of the match with an ace.
Raducanu* 0-2 Kasatkina (*denotes next server)
Looks like a slow indoor hard court. Patience will be required for Raducanu because she won't be able to blast her way through Kasatkina.
Ace by Kasatkina, 30-0. Lovely touch at the net by Raducanu with a drop volley. Raducanu doesn't do enough with her sliced backhand approach and Kasatkina whips a forehand past her, 40-15.
Excellent finish to the game by Kasatkina as she hits a cross court forehand winner. Very confident start.
— wta (@WTA) October 4, 2022
First Set: Emma Raducanu 0-1 Daria Kasatkina* (*denotes next server)
It is a sparse crowd in Ostrava. Hopefully it builds up.
Forehand into the tramlines by Raducanu, 15-30. She then drags a backhand wide and it is two early break points.
Kasatkina turns defence into attack with a deep forehand and Raducanu mis-hits a forehand wide to drop serve.
Good call by Kasatkina to make Raducanu serve first.
Early win for Kasatkina
The Russian wins the toss and opts to receive serve first.
Pressure on the Briton to start strongly.
Who is Daria Kasatkina?
Kasatkina, the fifth seed, is ranked 11 in the world.
Her best grand slam result of the year is the semi-finals of the French Open.
She won the Silicon Valley Classic and Championnats de Granby in August.
Not long to go...
Expecting Raducanu and Kasatkina on court very shortly. Could be a tricky test for the British No 1.
More importantly, she will want to come through this match without any more injury problems.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Emma Raducanu's opening match at the Ostrava Open.
The world No 67 is playing this week's WTA 500 in the Czech Republic- her first tournament since retiring injured in Seoul.
Raducanu achieved her best result since winning the 2021 US Open at the Korean Open as she made the semi-final before being forced to stop in the third set against Jelena Ostapenko, retiring the match citing a left glute injury.
The British No 1's fitness continues to be an issue but on a pretty fast indoor court she has every chance of troubling her opponent.
The 19-year-old has had a week off and appears to have recovered from that particular issue that ended her Korean Open run to the Latvian, as she remains in the draw in Ostrava.
However, Raduancu will have a big challenge on her hands if she is to make a second-successive semi-final in the Czech Republic. As well as facing Daria Kasatkina in her opening match and with two-time Australian Victoria Azarenka a potential opponent in the second round.
World No 3 Anett Kontaveit sits in Raducanu's half of the draw and is full of confidence after reaching the final of her home tournament in Tallinn, while world No 1 Iga Swiatek would be a potential semi-final opponent as she heads up the top half.
Despite Raducanu suffering her fourth retirement of the year, her first round opponent Kasatkina has enjoyed a resurgent 2022 season. The Russian is currently sitting at No 11 in the world and No 7 in the race to the WTA finals.
The 25-year-old has not played since suffering a shock first-round defeat to fellow British player Harriet Dart at the US Open, while Raducanu has contested two events since her own upset loss in New York.
The players are due on court just after 3pm and we will have game-by-game updates for you throughout plus all the post-match reaction.