Perhaps Emma Raducanu intended to downplay the expectations placed on her or make life easier for herself when she dismissed that she would suffer with the pressure of returning to the site of her unexpected and stunning march to the US Open championship in 2021. .
“I think that defending a title is an invention of the press,” the British shot in the prelude to the tournament in Flushing Meadows.
In any case, her next visit to New York was short-lived. Raducanu became just the third woman in the professional era to lose in the first round the year after winning the US Open, losing 6-3, 6-3 to France’s Alizé Cornet on Tuesday night.
“People, I’m sorry. I know you guys love Emma very much,” she Cornet said as she addressed the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium. “She is a great player and a great person.”
The other defending champions — if you believe in that condition — who quickly bowed out at the US Slam were Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won it in 2004, and Angelique Kerber, who won it in 2016 (and lost in the first round in 2017 to a Naomi Osaka who had yet to win any of her four major trophies).
Raducanu dealt with blisters on the right hand she holds her racket with and called in after the first set for treatment.
She was clearly outclassed by Cornet, the 32-year-old veteran who broke World No. 1 Iga Swiatek’s 37-match win streak at Wimbledon.
A year ago, at 18 years of age, Raducanu showed up at Flushing Meadows as the 150th in the ranking to participate in only the second major of her precocious career. She made it through all three qualifying matches and ended up scoring 10 wins to become the first player to come out of the qualifiers to win a Grand Slam title, beating another unseeded teenager, Leylah Fernández, in the final.
Since then, Raducanu has compiled a 15-19 record, with second-round losses in each of the first three majors of 2022.
She was the 11th seed at the US Open.
Cornet is the 40th in the ranking and appeared to play her 63rd Grand Slam tournament in a row, a record. Only once has she reached the quarterfinals in those events — at the Australian Open this year.
But she has six wins against players ranked in the top 20 in the world this season.
“I manage my emotions better,” Cornet said. “Maybe because I’m getting older, I’m more mature. That’s fine because I’m 32 years old. I guess it’s better late than never.”