It took less than an hour for Emma Raducanu to crash out of the Transylvania Open, after fellow teenager Marta Kostyuk denied her the chance to face her idol Simona Halep in the semi-finals.
In an error-strewn and at times disengaged performance, the US Open champion said “tiredness” contributed to her wilting when faced with world No 55 Kostyuk’s powerful play.
Raducanu, 18, lacked the fighting spirit and precision she had shown in her previous two matches in Cluj-Napoca, racking up 41 unforced errors, and said afterwards she was not surprised, because she felt “lethargic” all day ahead of the evening start-time.
“I was tired today, I knew from the morning, I knew from practice,” she said. “I wanted to try my best, and maybe it would go better. But I just couldn’t get it going today, unfortunately. Marta’s a great athlete, so I knew it was going to be a tough match. I wasn’t physically feeling 100 per cent. I was quite tired and lethargic, but sometimes you just have those days when you don’t feel your best. But all credit to Marta for staying focused.”
Unlike most players Raducanu has faced so far in her career, she and Kostyuk have history. The pair are contemporaries, both born in 2002, and played each other a couple of times as juniors – recording a win each in Tennis Europe tournaments. While Kostyuk said ahead of their clash that she could not recall those meetings, for Raducanu the memory was fresh. “She destroyed me in juniors,” the Briton said, referring to their last meeting in Belgium six years ago, when the Ukrainian played 12-year-old Raducanu off the court, winning 6-1, 6-1. Raducanu had predicted things would be much different in Cluj-Napoca, because of how far they have both come, but in the end the scoreline almost matched it. The major title Raducanu won just last month did little to scare Kostyuk off, and she stormed to victory at the BT Arena, winning 6-2, 6-1 in 57 minutes.
Raducanu insisted afterwards that previous results did not play on her mind. “She’s a good opponent, regardless of what happened. We both have come such a long way, that it’s just a completely different match now. She played very well and I wasn’t there. I didn’t deserve to win, so I didn’t win. That’s that.”
Kostyuk, however, felt differently. She said Raducanu’s negative memories of facing her had motivated the victory. “When I read her comments about our last match, it gave me some strength,” Kostyuk said. “She remembered it and I thought: ‘I have to go with it.’ ”
As well as Kostyuk played, Raducanu was way off her best. During juniors, Raducanu always needed to play catch up against players like Kostyuk, because of the Ukrainian’s full-time commitment to the sport from a much earlier age. And on Friday night she looked very much the junior compared to 19-year-old Kostyuk, who showed experience and was ruthless while Raducanu faded fast. Kostyuk immediately broke Raducanu’s serve in the first game and the Briton struggled to find her range. She was sending forehands two feet past the baseline, and finding the net too many times on her usually reliable backhand.
During the middle portion of the first set, she started to correct that, hitting some winners and coping well with Kostyuk’s weapon serve. But it was a brief glimmer of her usual level. When a break-back point for Raducanu came and went in the sixth game, her opportunity evaporated. Raducanu’s double faults were an issue – including two in her last service game of the first set, which saw her broken for the second time. She looked visibly frustrated at that point, but once Kostyuk had wrapped up the opener within 30 minutes, Raducanu’s shoulders slumped and the energy was sapped from her racket.
She notched up seven double faults in total, allowing herself to be broken easily, and the match looked completely unsalvageable. It was only at 5-1 down, when facing three match points, that Raducanu reacted – saving them with fine serving and a couple of drive volleys, but it only delayed the inevitable. On the fourth match point, the erratic shot-making returned, and Raducanu sent a backhand wide and long to put an end to a match she will likely want to forget.
Still without a coach, she gave little away on how scouting a new one is progressing, after trialling a number of options last week. She next plays at the Linz Open in Austria on Nov 6, and after the loss reiterated the time she still needs to “adjust” to the tour. “I’ve experienced a lot in the last six months with not so many gaps, and I’m just adapting to the fast-paced life of the tour,” she said. “I’m obviously still very new to it, I think it’s still going to take me some time to adjust.”
Emma Raducanu vs Marta Kostyuk, as it happened:
That’s all from me…
But read Molly McElwee’s report for a full recap of a tough night for Emma Raducanu.
These two players could have a rivalry for years to come
A reminder that both Raducanu and Kostyuk were born in 2002 – and have shown incredible talent already.
One stat reveals a lot from this match
Raducanu made 41 unforced errors today. Her serve and forehand in particular struggled with accuracy.
Comprehensive win by Kostyuk
Raducanu was not at her best but give credit to the talented Ukranian who played superbly.
Raducanu* 2-6, 1-6 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu starts to find her serve, winning successive points with ease. She then sends a forehand long, once again. 30-15. A backhand then cannons into the net. 30-30.
The British No 1 moves to 40-30 after a clever drop shot. But then another unforced error follows. Deuce.
Advantage Kostyuk. Raducanu attempted a cross-court forehand but hit the net. Back to deuce after a dominant rally.
Advantage to the Ukranian again. A second match point. Raducanu wins the point – back to deuce.
A third match point to Kostyuk. Can she make it count this time? No. Raducanu nails a forehand following a strong serve.
A textbook serve and volley gives Raducanu advantage – but she also cannot make it count. Fifth deuce.
A battle of drop shots is won by Raducanu. But Kostyuk responds with a stunning down the line forehand. Another deuce.
Raducanu moves to advantage again before finding the net. Back to deuce. Good fight from both players.
Kostyuk takes advantage and makes it count! Raducanu pulls her backhand wide. That is that.
Raducanu 2-6, 1-5 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Kostyuk is dominating this set. Raducanu is really struggling. She desperately needs a break.
The Ukranian starts with a double-fault of her own. She wins the next point after another forehand is sent long by Raducanu. The Brit takes the next point after getting on the front foot and hitting with power. 30-15.
Kostyuk takes the next two points after long rallies on both. Raducanu shouts in frustration.
Kostyuk holds after an ace.
Raducanu* 2-6, 1-4 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu loses the first point before winning an extended rally with powerful ground play. 15-15.
A loose forehand is sent long by the British No 1. Too many unforced errors so far. She then finds the net. 15-40.
Raducanu double-faults and is broken again. She is in dire trouble.
Raducanu 2-6, 1-3 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Raducanu misses out on a gentle second serve, pulling a cross-court forehand wide. An ace follows. 0-30.
The Brit shanks a backhand to lose her third point on the bounce. Another ace secures perfect serving game from the Ukranian.
Raducanu* 2-6, 1-2 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu loses the first point of her serve before winning a long rally with a perfect down the line forehand. That’s more like it! 15-15.
The Brit takes the next two points in emphatic style – has she turned the corner? 40-15. A thunderous forehand secures the game.
Raducanu 2-6, 0-2 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
The Ukranian holds without dropping a point. That is five games in a row for Kostyuk.
Second set: Raducanu* 2-6, 0-1 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Kostyuk starts the second set by breaking Raducanu after a poor serving game including two double-faults. Raducanu looks off her game.
First set verdict
Raducanu took a few games to find her range, and that’s why she went down an early break. But she was starting to serve very well, coping better with Kostyuk’s own powerful serve, and even had a break back point in the sixth game.
The double faults became an issue, four in total and two in her last service game – which saw her broken for the second time. She looked visibly frustrated too.
Kostyuk only had two break points – but she snapped both opportunities up. Raducanu will need to come back from a set down for only the second time in her WTA career.
By Molly McElwee
Raducanu 2-6 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Kostyuk is serving to secure the set. She starts with an ace. Raducanu fights back with a series of powerful forehands. 15-15.
Raducanu hits a second serve long. Sloppy. The Ukranian moves to 15-40 after nailing her first serve.
Set point. Kostyuk takes it with a superb drop shot after forcing Raducanu to the back of the court.
Raducanu* 2-5 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
The teenagers exchange points before Raducanu hits her forehand way long. 15-30.
A bouncy second serve draws the Brit level. 30-30. A double-fault hands back a lead to Kostyuk. The Ukranian breaks again! Raducanu lost her serving rhythm completely.
Raducanu 2-4 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Raducanu fails to capitalise on a second serve, finding the net. And again. 0-30.
Kostyuk fails to get her first serve in again and this time Raducanu punishes her. The Ukranian then mis-hits a ball long. 30-30.
Raducanu nails a backhand return, taking the lead in the game. Kostyuk slams the break opportunity door shut with a resounding ace. Deuce.
It is advantage to Kostyuk after Raducanu hits a forehand into the net. The Ukranian secures the hold after a long rally with a few fortunate moments.
Raducanu* 2-3 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu attempts a delicate drop shot but the ball cannot quite clear the net. Raducanu wins successive points with Kostyuk struggling to return. Make that three in a row. Nope, four on the bounce. Her serving has been outstanding in the last two games.
Raducanu 1-3 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Kostyuk fires down a serve, Raducanu does well to return it and the Ukranian then sends her backhand long. Raducanu loses the next point after getting on top of the rally only to send a backhand wide. 15-15.
The teenagers exchange points, Raducanu winnings her with a powerful, flat backhand. 30-30.
Kostyuk moves to game point with a superb cross-court forehand. But the British No 1 gets to deuce after dominating a long rally. Points exchanged, deuce once more.
The Ukranian holds after two more powerful winners. These two look well matched.
Raducanu* 1-2 Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu responds well to her shaky start, romping to her first game of the match without losing a point. She has found her serving game!
Raducanu 0-2 Kostyuk* (*denotes server)
Kostyuk starts her serving game powerfully with two aces. A double-fault then allows Raducanu back into the game. The Brit chases a winner with her return but hits it wide and long. 15-40. A rally breaks out before Raducanu hits another ball long. Game Kostyuk.
First set: Emma Raducanu* 0-1 Marta Kostyuk (*denotes server)
Raducanu loses the first point of the match but responds well, striking the ball powerfully and forcing Kostyuk to hit long after a lengthy rally. The British No 1 moves win successive points thanks to some strong serving.
A double-fault allows Kostyuk back into the game. 40-30. The Ukranian then wins the next point after Raducanu fails to return a powerful backhand. Deuce.
Advantage Raducanu after a superb wide serve – but Raducanu cannot capitalise, finding the net with her backhand. Deuce.
Kostyuk wins advantage. A second double-fault hands a break to the Ukranian.
Here we go!
Raducanu will serve.
Emma Raducanu is out on court!
She comes out second, and looks fairly relaxed. There are no fans in the stadium due to the tightening of covid restrictions.
Can Raducanu get through to face Halep in the semi-final?
Her opponent today, Marta Kostyuk, is another talented teenager, who Raducanu has played against on the junior circuit. Yesterday, she said her opponent today used to have the upper hand.
“Marta is a great opponent, she absolutely destroyed me in the juniors every single time, so it will be an interesting match,” Raducanu said.
“We played in juniors, but she was playing full-time on the road from a very young age. She’s developed a lot of skills doing that. I kind of came from behind and caught up this year. She’s a great mover and great athlete. The match up is going to be pretty different because we’ve both come a long way since that young age. I’m looking forward to it.”
The third quarter-final has just finished
Simona Halep has won in straight-sets, 6-1, 6-1, defeating Jaqueline Cristian.
Not long until Raducanu is in action.
Emma Raducanu spoke well after her win yesterday
🗣 “I don’t think I’m the finished product yet”
Emma Raducanu isn’t getting carried away after just her 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 WTA win 👏
She’s in quarter-final action today LIVE on Prime Video in the UK & Ireland 🎾 pic.twitter.com/Ql4yMXNJGQ
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) October 29, 2021
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of Emma Raducanu’s quarter-final clash
U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu eased into the Transylvania Open quarter-finals yesterday with a controlled 6-3, 6-4 win over home favourite Ana Bogdan in the second round.
Raducanu followed up her maiden WTA Tour win over Polona Hercog – a battling three-set victory on Tuesday – with a much improved performance against Bogdan and looked steady on serve, winning 87.5 per cent of her first serve points.
“It was so good to play a Romanian here. All the volunteers who go into making this tournament possible, we really appreciate their support. Ana was a great opponent,” Raducanu said after the match.
“It’s definitely taking me some time to find my feet still. I’m taking some learnings from every match I play. I still don’t think I’m the finished product yet.”
Raducanu, who announced herself on the grandest stage when she claimed the Flushing Meadows title as a qualifier last month, added that she has gifted her U.S. Open trophy to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
“It’s stored at the National Tennis Centre I’m pretty sure in London,” Raducanu said after beating Bogdan.
“It’s not at home. If you want to see it, it’s at the NTC. I just thought the LTA had done so much for me and I just wanted them to have it as a sign for everything they had done for me. It’s a little gift,” the British number one said.
Raducanu will face world No 55 Marta Kostyuk in today’s quarter-final, and recalled the Ukrainian previously “destroying” her when they played at junior level.
“Marta is a great opponent, she absolutely destroyed me in the juniors every single time, so it will be an interesting match,” Raducanu said. “We played in juniors, but she was playing full-time on the road from a very young age. She’s developed a lot of skills doing that. I kind of came from behind and caught up this year. She’s a great mover and great athlete. The match up is going to be pretty different because we’ve both come a long way since that young age. I’m looking forward to it.”