- Emma Raducanu lost 6-0, 7-6 to Anhelina Kalinina in the Qatar Open first round
- She was pictured cosying up to starts in Dubai two days before the match
- The 21-year-old admitted she needs to better schedule her tournaments
Emma Raducanu admitted she needs a better tournament schedule after crashing out of the Qatar Open’s first round on Monday – two days after she was photographed with Naomi Campbell at a glitzy hotel opening.
The 21-year-old British grand slam winner was beaten in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 by Ukrainian world number 30 Anhelina Kalinina in Doha on Monday night.
Less than 48 hours beforehand, she had been pictured in Dubai with supermodel Naomi Campbell and High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens at the opening of a glamorous hotel in Dubai – some 240 miles east as the crow flies.
She had stayed in the UAE after losing to Tunisian world number six Ons Jabeur, also in straight sets 6-4, 6-1, on Wednesday before attending the glamorous party – with reports suggesting she lost precious time practicing on the courts in Qatar.
During an interview with Sky Sports on site in Doha on Sunday afternoon, she had admitted that she had ‘no idea’ about the speed of the surface; 2024 was her first entry into the Qatar Open.
Emma Raducanu is pictured with Naomi Campbell at the opening of a glitzy hotel in Dubai two days before she crashed out of the Qatar Open
Raducanu smiles as she poses on the ‘red’ carpet at the opening of the hotel. She flew to Doha the next day
Raducanu crashed out of the Qatar Open in the first round after her straight sets defeat against Anhelina Kalinina
The 21-year-old Brit admits that she needs to plan her tour schedule better upon reflection
Raducanu poses for a picture with High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens at the opening of the One&Only One Za’abeel hotel on Saturday
And reports suggest Raducanu only arrived in Doha on Sunday, the morning after the party at the One&Only One Za’abeel – and that a planned day of practice was disrupted by rain that threw off the schedules on the courts.
As a result, The Times reports, her practice time on the surfaces in Qatar were shortened to just Sunday afternoon – and may have impacted her ability.
She has come under fire for her array of big-money sponsorship deals in the past -taking part in tie-ups with British Airways, Dior, Evian, HSBC, Porsche, Tiffany, Vodafone and Nike.
Management for the star have insisted in the past that her commercial deals do not distract from her ability to play on court, but she has struggled to find form since picking up her maiden grand slam at the US Open in 2021.
Raducanu, who had flown to the Middle East in a bid to regain her rhythm after an eight month long injury lay-off following surgeries on both of her wrists and left ankle, also said she struggled to see the ball in the bright daylight of Doha.
‘I was struggling with everything – serve, return, forehand, backhand,’ said Raducanu, who suffered 48 unforced errors compared to Kalinina’s 22.
‘I felt like I never really got into it. It was combination of things. It was my first day-match I have played in a year. That is different.
‘I need to practise training outside a bit more. The lights, conditions, shadows… it is really hard to see the ball, I found towards the end.’
The only comfort for Raducanu was how she turned the second set into a more of a contest – lasting 77 minutes compared to just 22 in the first.
She added: ‘When my tennis isn’t there, I have to try and at least fight.
‘I just struggled with the timing of the ball. It will come with more time practising as well as matches. It is hard for me to get used to the tour schedule.
‘It is one tournament then another straight away. I need to schedule my tournaments a bit better and try to get more matches under my belt.’
Raducanu was named a wildcard for the Qatar Open – she has not opted to put herself forward for another draw in the WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai.
And while she has bowed out of two major tournaments in the last seven days, it hasn’t all been frowns: Raducanu was reduced to giggles in Dubai after a cat invaded the court just before play was due to begin against Jableur.