Emma Raducanu was denied a place in her first WTA final since winning last year’s US Open, after being forced to retire against Latvian top seed Jelena Ostapenko in the Korea Open semi-finals.
It was a heart-breaking evening in Seoul for Raducanu, who won the first set 6-4, but trouble with her left glute forced the 19-year-old into a medical time out in the second set.
After battling on in the third set, time was up with the Brit 3-0 down and compounded what has been a frustrating year since her stunning success at last year’s US Open.
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The injury surfaced with the Brit a break up at 2-1 in the second set, showing tremendous resilience to recover from a break down in the first.
Sadly, she has been unable to build any momentum from that incredible US Open triumph, bowing out at the first hurdle in Flushing Meadows last month, prompting a slide down to 77th in the world rankings. A win here could have put her on course for a return to the top 50.
Injuries have sadly been a dominant feature for the Brit, with this her fourth retirement of the calendar year, as blisters, side strain, along with hip and back issues have taken their toll.
However, it looked like being a very different story in a commanding first-set display from Raducanu, with the teenager’s strong service game coming to the fore.
She came out on top in a gripping first set which ebbed and flowed with a dominant rally to go 30-love up with the score at 5-4. Ostapenko did well to fight back against two set points, but it was the Brit's serve which ensured she drew first blood.
Ostapenko moved 3-2 ahead in the second set, as the tide turned the Latvian's way with Raducanu beginning to struggle. She played two brilliant aces to hold her service game, before a medical time out was called for Raducanu to receive treatment on her left glute.
Play resumed and Ostapenko moved 4-2 ahead with a superb forehand to ram home her advantage after the enforced timeout.
Raducanu showed plenty of battling qualities to fight back against Ostapenko's set point with an excellent forehand return, which elluded the Latvian to take it a deuce. But an ace from Ostapenko and a fine serve on her advantage secured the set.
Time was seemingly up for Raducanu, who went 3-0 behind in the third and decisive set, with the Latvian now in cruise control.
Raducanu's inevitable retirement followed, and she will now rise 11 places in the WTA rankings to 66th, after a promising week in Seoul ends in disappointment.
Ostapenko can now prepare to face Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrov, after the second seed overcame Tatjana Maria 6-2 6-4.
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