Emma Raducanu said on Tuesday that she has “no idea” whether she will be fit in time for Wimbledon this month after a “freak injury” forced her to retire from the Rothesay Open at Nottingham after just 36 minutes of her first-round match against Viktorija Golubic.
Raducanu took a three-minute injury timeout after the third game, in which she held her serve to take a 2-1 lead. The early signs were that her problem had been resolved, as she immediately broke the Golubic serve for a second time, but her opponent reeled off the next three games while Raducanu received further attention from the physio at every change.
She scarcely moved towards Golubic’s return at the start of her fourth service game, lost it with a weak forehand into the net and told the umpire that she would not be able to continue a few moments later.
“First game, absolute freak,” Raducanu said afterwards. “I think I pulled something. I’m not really sure exactly what happened, I don’t know what I could have done about it. I have to get a scan, probably, I’ll get it checked out and we’ll see from there. It’s on the side of my body, it feels maybe around my ribs.
“One shot in the first game, I was just like, this just doesn’t feel right at all. Then I was thinking, first game, if you do something in the first game, people are going to be like, why did you walk out on to the court?
“So I definitely tried to get through it, but in the second game I called the physio on at the first changeover to try to do some work, but from there, even she was like, this is going to be really difficult for you to continue.”
Raducanu does not believe her latest injury is related in any way to a problem with her back earlier in the year, but said that it meant she “just couldn’t do anything” on the court.
“You don’t want to stop after one or two games and I tried to battle through it, and I found myself 3-1 up as well,” she said. “At that point, I knew it was just a matter of time to be honest. I clearly couldn’t serve and because of where the location [of the injury] is, I had to move it for everything, to turn, to move, to serve, to breathe in and out.”
It was a miserable conclusion to Raducanu’s return to Nottingham, the tournament in which she launched her professional career 12 months ago.
Her first-round defeat by Harriet Dart here in 2021 offered no hint of what was to follow, as Raducanu reached the fourth round at Wimbledon a few weeks later before her extraordinary 10-match winning run to the championship at the US Open in September, when she became the first qualifier to win a grand slam event in the open era.
Raducanu has endured several injury issues since her victory in New York including blisters and a back problem, while she also contracted Covid-19 in December. She has an entry in the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham next week, with Wimbledon to begin on 27 June.
“I haven’t thought about it [Birmingham], to be honest,” she said. “I’ve literally walked off court having gone out in the way that I did. I’m not exactly thinking about next week straight away.
“I’m trying to keep that positive mindset that I’ve been having, and I’d prepared really well for this tournament. I was feeling good and comfortable, and I think that even when I was out there, there were some signs that I was pretty happy, playing more aggressively and stuff, so it’s just a shame.
“I’m obviously disappointed. It’s really bad luck, because I feel like I’ve been putting really good work in and sometimes you just want to catch a break or something and I haven’t really. That’s out of my control, but I feel like right now, all I can do is what I’m doing and I’m putting in a lot of good work. I just need to trust that.”
There was better news, meanwhile, for Andy Murray who began his campaign at the Boss Open in Stuttgart with victory against Australia’s Christopher O’Connell.
The two-time Wimbledon champion lost in the semi-finals of the second-tier Challenger event in Surbiton last week and has headed to Germany to continue his grass-court season. Murray lost the first three games against the qualifier O’Connell but recovered strongly to claim a 6-4, 6-3 victory.