Emma Raducanu has heroically bowed out the Australian Open with a three sets defeat to Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
The Brit started the match well, breaking Kovinic early on but soon started to struggle with blisters on her right hand.
This allowed Kovinic to find her way back into the match and the 27-year-old then broke the Brit three times in a row to take the first set 6-4.
Raducanu was visibly in pain by this point and appeared unable to hit a proper forehand –– resorting to the slice relentlessly and aiming to hit backhand winners.
Remarkably, the Brit’s tactic proved successful and she managed to claim the second set 6-4 to take the match to a decider.
A reinvigorated Raducanu suddenly found some forehand power and manufactured break-points on Kovinic’s first service game in the third set.
However, the Brit failed to take her chances and soon began to struggle with pain in her hand once again.
And the Montenegrin took advantage this time –– eventually closing out the final set 6-3 to reach the third round in Melbourne for the first time in her career.
For Raducanu, this is her earliest loss in a Grand Slam to date, though she exits the competition with an immense amount of pride.
It seemed impossible at one stage to think the Brit had any chance of winning the match but her second set comeback once again showed her courage in the face of adversity.
Kovinic will now face either Simona Halep or Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.
Raducanu is still yet to meet childhood idol Halep in her professional career and the wait to face the Romanian goes on for now.