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Great Britain beaten by Czech Republic in Billie Jean King Cup
Raducanu struggled with a blister on her foot during a 6-1 6-1 defeat by Marketa Vondrousova.
Emma Raducanu’s physical frailties struck again as Great Britain suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Czech Republic in their Billie Jean King Cup tie in Prague.
Raducanu marked her debut in the competition on Friday by beating Tereza Martincova in her first professional match on clay but struggled with a blister on her right foot on Saturday and lost 6-1 6-1 to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in only 62 minutes.
That put the Czechs within sight of victory in the play-off but captain Petr Pala’s decision to throw in 16-year-old rookie Linda Fruhvirtova backfired when she was beaten 6-0 5-7 6-2 by Harriet Dart.
Having gone into the tie as significant underdogs, it was an achievement in itself for Britain to force a deciding doubles rubber, but Dart and Katie Swan were unable to pull off the upset, losing 6-1 7-5 to Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova.
Vondrousova was a level above any other player in the tie, losing just nine games in three matches, but it was clear Raducanu was operating at significantly less than 100 per cent in their contest, particularly after taking a medical time-out at the end of the opening set.
The 19-year-old said of the blister: “It kind of showed up after yesterday’s match. We’ve been managing it but as you saw I couldn’t really move or load either way and now it’s just about trying to get it better as soon as possible.
“It was compromising every shot I had to play. It’s very disappointing when you’re out there playing a rubber for your country and you feel completely redundant.”
This has happened quite a few times now and we need to nip it in the bud.
- Emma Raducanu
Raducanu now faces a race against time to be fit for next week’s WTA Tour event in Stuttgart and admitted her frustration at yet another physical issue.
Having begun the season playing catch-up after contracting coronavirus, Raducanu struggled with a blister on her hand at the Australian Open, pulled out during a match in Mexico with a thigh problem and was hampered by a stiff back in Indian Wells.
She said: “I’ve had a few blisters on my feet before. I’m going to need to go and evaluate all my options. This has happened quite a few times now and we need to nip it in the bud.
“Of course it’s frustrating but in some sort of twisted way it gives me a sense of confidence and relief that I don’t think it’s my tennis that’s the issue.
“I think my tennis level is pretty good it’s just about being able to repeat it or maintain it and not be hampered by any sort of physical issues.
“As soon as I sort all of these out and keep building on my tennis level then I think I’ll be able to put out good matches back to back.”
The Czechs had four top-100 players in their team despite missing several star names but to try to clinch the tie Pala instead chose Fruhvirtova, who is undoubtedly a major talent but hugely inexperienced.
Dart stamped her authority on the match straight away by winning the first nine games and looked to be cruising at 6-0 5-2 only for nerves to kick in.
Fruhvirtova won five games in a row to force a decider but Dart rallied to move 5-0 ahead and looked both delighted and relieved to clinch a first singles win for her country.
“I definitely think I gave my team a little bit of a heart attack,” she said. “It’s natural that I was a bit nervous to try and close it out. I was happy that I was able to reset after the second set.”
Women’s doubles is Britain’s weakest area and Tara Moore, their only top 100 player, was not picked for the tie, so captain Anne Keothavong went with Dart and Swan, who had won two rubbers together lower down the competition.
This proved too big of a challenge despite a second-set fightback, with the Czechs, who have been by far the most successful nation in the competition over the last decade, clinching their place in November’s finals week.
Britain could still yet join them if the Lawn Tennis Association’s bid to host the event is successful.