Tennis: Emma Raducanu out but not down after entertaining ASB Classic defeat to Elina Svitolina

Brit Emma Raducanu, playing her first tournament following an eight-month injury layoff, has been unable to claim a place in the last eight at the ASB Classic, after a 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-1 defeat to second seed Elina Svitolina.

In a highly entertaining match, the former US Open champion won the first set of her match and led 3-1 in the second set tie-break, before Svitolina fought back to force the decider.

The Ukrainian upped her game in the third set to take the match and set up a clash with Marie Bouzkova.

Result aside, Raducanu looked in encouraging form against the former world No. 3 Svitolina, showing signs she's progressing back towards her best after her injury-plagued 2023.

Both players gave the Stanley St crowd their money's worth with some high-quality tennis, and Raducanu admits she was heartened by her efforts.

"I'm really pleased," Raducanu said after the match. 

Elina Sviotlina celebrates her win.
Elina Sviotlina celebrates her win. Photo credit: Photosport

"I loved the atmosphere today, it was pretty insane. We had some really good points in the first and second set and it was amazing to have the support here in Auckland, but also back home in London.

"I know a lot of my friends and people have been waking up early, to watch and support. So, I'm glad to be back and feeling the energy of the crowds."

Svitolina compared the intensity of the match to her Wimbledon quarter-final upset of world No.1 Iga Swiatek last July.

"It was at a really high level. I would say it was a similar match I had with Iga at Wimbledon," said Svitolina.

Emma Raducanu.
Emma Raducanu. Photo credit: Getty Images

"We were striking the ball well with every point finishing with a winner pretty much. It was good, competitive sets and it was the second best match I've played level wise.  

"Of course, my start to the match was really bad, I wasn't there 100 percent maybe mentally.

"Also, Emma played really well, she didn't miss one ball until 5-1, so it was a really high level and I'm happy I could be there and play well throughout the whole match."

Raducanu was heartened by the comparison, ruing the drop in energy that saw her lose the final set so decisively.

"When you play someone like Elina, it's very difficult to train at that level and train like that for three and a half hours," Raducanu said.

"Even if you practise like that for three hours, it's not the same as having to make your first serve every time, if not, she's on the second.

"So I'm pretty pleased she compared it to that [match against Swiatek].

"I know it's the start of a long season for me and I'm looking forward to reflecting on the year and having this as a starting point."

The 21-year-old will now head across the ditch to begin her preparations for the Australian Open, where she secured a spot in the main draw earlier this week due to American Lauren Davis' injury withdrawal.