Emma Raducanu has reflected upon her "really disappointing, really sad" first-round defeat to Alize Cornet at the US Open.
The Brit, who stunned the world by securing a shock triumph at Flushing Meadows last year in a fairytale fortnight, could not find the same magic this year as she lost to the unseeded French player 6-3 6-3 in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
In 2021, Raducanu remarkably won all 10 of her matches and became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era in only her second major.
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For Cornet, though, the opportunity to cause a big result in her record-breaking 63rd consecutive major appearance was a sizeable one. She managed to keep her level above her opponent's pretty much throughout and secured a straight-sets victory.
Raducanu was left to reflect on what has been a frustrating season at the Grand Slams, but one in which she says she has learned a great deal about herself. She is also pleased to now have a "clean slate" ahead of next year.
"I think it was a pretty tough match against a really experienced player," Raducanu began in her post-match press conference.
"[I'm] obviously disappointed to lose first round. Credit to Alize, she played pretty well. Obviously, really disappointing, really sad to leave here. It's probably my favourite tournament.
"But also, in a way, I'm happy because it's a clean slate. I'm going to drop down the rankings. Climb my way back up. In a way, the target will be off my back slightly. I just have another chance to claw my way back up there.
"I've been doing some really good work in the last six weeks especially. I'm just looking forward to putting more of those weeks together consistently, then we'll see what happens."
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Looking ahead, Raducanu said she is determined to respond positively and to get back into a winning habit - no matter what level the victories come at.
"[As the] US Open defending champion, obviously, it would have been great to defend the title. But I kind of want new experiences. In a way, I've kind of done that so I want another tournament.
"It doesn't really matter what it is. I think any player would be happy to win a tournament. I think it makes a massive difference no matter what the level is.
"I think I'll play some 250s. I think the rest of the year is that. We'll see what the calendar holds."
As for Cornet, she was "sorry" to deny the crowd an opportunity to see Raducanu win, but she was delighted to find some of her best form on the biggest stage in the sport.
"I'm sorry guys. I know you like Emma. She's a great player and a great person so I'm sorry I beat her tonight," she said in her on-court interview.
"I'm really happy about my performance. I thought I played a really solid match overall.
"I was getting tired from the middle of the second set because it was very long rallies all the time. But I just hung in there and I was fighting my heart out so super happy.
"I like the drop shot, it's one of my favourite shots. I don't do it as well as Ons Jabeur, but I try to do the same. I think my game at the net was pretty good too. But 14 points of 15 won at the net was pretty good.
"I did a lot of variation and I think that's what worked tonight. I should definitely keep the drop shot in my game."
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