Emma Raducanu set for startling rankings slump after latest hammering

Emma Raducanu practice

Emma Raducanu was hammered in the first round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart as Jelena Ostapenko breezed past her in less than an hour, with this latest performance among her most alarming yet.

The British No 1, who has been battling a wrist injury, was comprehensively outplayed by the 2017 French Open winner as she romped to a 6-2 6-1 victory in 59 minutes on the clay to set up a second-round showdown with third seed Ons Jabeur.

Both players held serve comfortably at the first time of asking, but as Ostapenko started to find rhythm, her power and depth off the forehand set up a break point in the third game which she converted with a fine backhand return.

The Latvian established a 4-1 lead with a second successive break courtesy of another forehand winner as Raducanu struggled to deal with the weight of her opponent’s hitting, and she was caught out by her touch too as a deft drop shot helped to secure the next game.

Having stopped the rot to make it 5-2, the 2021 US Open winner was swatted aside as Ostapenko served out for the set, winning 6-2 in just 29 minutes.

Raducanu’s response was to win the first six points of the second set, holding service impressively to love before establishing a 30-0 lead in the second game, but the door was slammed firmly shut as the world number 22 rattled off 16 successive points to go 4-1 up.

The Brit fashioned her first break point of the match in the next game, but she was unable to take it and found herself serving to stay in it, ultimately in vain as Ostapenko crashed a forehand service return past her to set up a match point she took with the minimum of fuss.

The scale of this defeat highlighted Raducanu’s lack of experience on clay courts, but also highlighted the chasm in class she needs to close before she can challenge at the top of the game once again.

Her curious tactic of standing in a wide position on her first serve was brutally exposed by Ostapenko, with her refusal to change her approach almost as concerning as her initial error.

The end result was a rout that has to leave Raducanu shaken and the first impact will be on her rankings.

This latest defeat will see Raducanu slump in the next edition of the WTA rankings when they are released next Monday.

She is currently at 68 in the WTA rankings, but slumps to 83rd in the provisional rankings.

The prospect of Raduanu sliding out of the world’s top 100 is now very real and that will raise question marks over the lucrative sponsorship deals she signed after her US Open win.

She is currently starring in a new promotion for British Airways and played in Stuttgart’s Porsche Cup courtesy of a wild card invitation from the sponsors, who are one of Raducanu’s backers.

It is hard to imagine these elite companies that threw their weight behind Raducanu after her breakthrough win at the US Open will want to renew expensive sponsorship deals with a player ranked outside the top 100 in the WTA rankings and now competing in the game’s biggest events.

She could continue to rely on wild cards to get into major tournaments and as a Grand Slam champion, she would continue to get invites to top tournaments.

On the evidence of this latest drubbing, Raducanu may be forced to drop on to the ITF World Tennis Tour to opponents who are closer to her level as she looks to find her feet in the professional ranks.

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