Emma Raducanu’s exciting Citi Open run has ended with a straight-sets quarter-final defeat against Ludmila Samsonova in Washington. Despite a tight opening set, the second seed was ultimately overpowered 7-6, 6-1, as the Russian world No 60 saved four set points en route to clinching the first set before cruising home in the second with nine aces and 33 winners for the match.
Raducanu proved to be her own worst enemy, mustering just eight winners and a single ace to go along with 24 unforced errors, as she struggled with Samsanova’s power. The British teenager, who begins her defence of her US Open crown in just over three weeks, was crushed 6-1 in the second set as her serve misfired and her groundstroke radar went missing-in-action.
After her 7-6, 7-6 comeback win over Columbian Camila Osorio, the keenly-awaited quarter final had been due to start at 10pm UK time. However, a three-hour rain delay followed by an epic curtain-raiser between Britain’s Dan Evans and eventual winner Yoshihito Nishioka that became a three-and-a-half hour thriller, meant the women didn’t take to the court until just before 11pm local time.
The delay clearly affected Raducanu as she faltered early on serve and found herself a break down from the get-go. However, a parochial crowd of 500 waving Union Jacks flags and wearing England football shirts, inspired the 19-year-old to rally and she soon found her rhythm, breaking Samsonova to love in the second game.
Struggling with Samsonova’s powerful forehand, Raducanu dug deep to stay in the rallies and her stamina frustrated the Russian into mistakes, as the world No 60 hit long, wide or into the net.
But Samsonova’s 115mph rifle serve outgunned Raducanu’s popgun 95mph and the pace and power soon exacted their toll. The young Briton looked visibly shocked as her opponent fired down two aces against the run of play to go 4-2 up in the first set. Even then, showing maturity and courage, Raducanu hung in, and dipped low behind the baseline to force more errors.
When the opening set went to a tie break, it was Raducanu who seized the advantage, surging to a 5-2 lead as Samsonova netted a drop shot. On serve Raducanu had more chances to take the first set, but errant forehands squandered the opportunities, and a 5-2 lead dissolved into an 8-6 eclipse to Samsonova.
At this point even Raducanu’s mother Renee left the John A Harris court and headed to the main stadium court where Frances Tiafoe and Nick Kyrgios were serving up a noisy showstopper and a big crowd were dancing in the aisles to pumping music. Samsonova too had found her groove.
Nursing blisters on both hands, Raducanu kept blowing on them, as she blew more chances and her error count soared. The young Briton tried to exploit Samsonova’s forehand but the tactic went south and she was soon 3-0 down early on in the second set. She managed to hold one service game, but quickly caved to Samsonova’s mighty serve as the final three games passed in a blur.
Raducanu left the Citi Open without fielding questions from the media and carrying a 2022 record that now reads 13 defeats and 10 victories. Next she heads north to her birthplace, the Canadian Open, starting on Monday. Riding shotgun will be her new coach Dmitry Tursunov who is working with her on a “temporary basis”.