Emma Raducanu’s US Open title defence preparations suffered another setback as she was comfortably beaten by Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the first round of the National Bank Open.
The 19-year-old, who was seeded ninth for the tournament, lost 7-6 6-2 to the defending champion.
Raducanu had served for a 5-3 lead in the first set and was a break up in the second, but Giorgi claimed six games in a row to continue her impressive streak in Toronto.
Despite losing, Raducanu remained upbeat after the match and stressed that there were still positives to take from her performance.
“I think it was a really good match, to be honest,” she said.
“I just need to get better at dealing with players who play as quick as she does.”
Raducanu’s poor form continues
Since winning the US Open last year, Raducanu has failed to reach the semi-finals of any competition.
The teenager has also been knocked out in the second round of all three majors so far this season.
While she did win her opening two matches at the Citi Open last week, she has now lost back-to-back matches, with just weeks to go until her title defence in New York gets underway.
Can Raducanu defend her title?
At the moment, it appears as though Raducanu’s chances of defending her title are even slimmer than when she won at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago.
There is an immense amount of pressure on her shoulders right now and she is completely void of any confidence.
Against Giorgi, Raducanu had her serve broken on six occasions and struggled to maintain power on her groundstrokes as the match progressed.
This points towards her inexperience on the tour and her lack of physicality compared to some of the other top players on the circuit.
The Brit has also been unable to develop any sort of consistency and has changed her coaching team on a number of occasions across the past year.
While some of these factors are within Raducanu’s control, she has also been desperately unlucky with injuries that have stunted her progress.
The teenager has suffered blisters, back injuries and hip problems, among other physical issues, which has often led to her retiring from matches.
Therefore, on paper at least, Raducanu will not be among the favourites for the final major of the year.
World number one Iga Swiatek has been in stunning form this year, while the rest of the world’s top 10 have all produced far better results than the Brit has this season.
Yet, as last year proved, it is often impossible to predict what’s going to happen in a Grand Slam and as Raducanu showed us all 12 months ago, anything is possible.