The tennis world has reacted with a mix of emotions after Emma Raducanu suffered more injury woes at the Italian Open on Tuesday and retired against Bianca Andreescu.
The most intriguing women's match on the card in Rome on Tuesday ended prematurely when the British phenom was forced to retire with a back injury while trailing 6-2 2-1.
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The match between US Open champions lived up to its billing early but came undone when Raducanu was clearly hampered by the injury.
The 19-year-old, who has been dogged by a series of different injuries this season, told a physio during a medical timeout "I can't move" before quitting.
A one-sided first set saw Raducanu have no answer to Andreescu's power, while struggling to make her own serve count.
Raducanu spent some time off the court for treatment and she was clearly uncomfortable when play got back under way.
Speaking in her post-match press conference she said: "I thought that maybe taking one, two days off, it would just go away because a lot of the other small niggles I've had, they've kind of gone away after taking, like, two days off.
"Then I got here and I was training, but it just didn't seem to get better. I need to make sure my back is fully right, however long that takes.
"I learned my lesson from this week: when to push, when not to push.
"It obviously sucks because I just feel like a lot of the matches, looking back, I'm either playing with this or that.
"Every single tournament, I'm learning what my body's capable of, what it's not. It's just I'm doing it in front of everyone.
"It's something that I've accepted. It's probably the match load, just getting used to it.
"It's just been four weeks of constant getting ready for the next match, recovering. It's probably just my body crying out, needs a little break."
Raducanu was also hampered by the back injury at the Madrid Open last week, while also suffering from blisters at multiple stages this year - her first full-time season on the WTA Tour.
She was forced to retire on her grand slam debut in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year after experiencing trouble breathing when she became overwhelmed by the situation.
She then shocked the tennis world when she became the first qualifier to win a grand slam at the US Open, but has struggled with patchy form and injuries ever since.
Fans were left gutted and disappointed to see Raducanu retire again on Tuesday.
Congrats for Bianca for the win! Sad for Emma. Get well soon! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
— Mini-Ryley 💎🐇 (@AstroRabbid) May 10, 2022
I am a huge fan of Emma however this pattern of retiring, injury, no coach and touring like a pop star isn’t working. Her age and experience are not a factor anymore. Someone within the circle needs to pull it together. Otherwise it could be a wasted talent.
— GPDARacer (@mrGPDARace) May 10, 2022
Sad way to end the long awaited Canadian born Romanian contest for the first time.
But plenty more matches for this rivalry.
— Peter DF (@EastAsianPete) May 10, 2022
Andreescu completely outclassed Raducanu in this 1st set. Awful body language from Emma, she just looks like she has no fight in her
— Factually Opinionated (@LoveBerg10kamp) May 10, 2022
— Dani (@Dballesteros79) May 10, 2022
Raducanu can't ball
— Sir Dave☯ (@dave_mike14) May 10, 2022
"Emma Raducanu" - Horrible first round for her. :(
— Layden Robinson (@LaydenRobinson) May 10, 2022
Grand slam champions suffer first round losses
Andreescu, herself working her way back to form after taking a break for mental health reasons and a knee injury, now faces Spanish lucky loser Nuria Parrizas Diaz.
Parrizas Diaz, who only earned a spot in the main draw after Naomi Osaka withdrew, advanced when compatriot Sara Sorribes Tormo retired with a back injury while leading 6-1 4-3.
Meanwhile, Ajla Tomljanovic moved into the second round when her opponent Camila Giorgi also retired.
The Italian had been struggling with a calf injury when rain forced the suspension of the match on Monday night with the Australian No.1 winning 6-3 4-2.
Tomljanovic next faces Ons Jabeur, winner in Madrid on Sunday, after the Tunisian brushed aside Sorana Cirstea 6-0 7-6 (7-1).
Jabeur won the first eight games and led 6-0, 5-2, but the Romanian rallied to be within three points of a third set. Jabeur ultimately won a second set that was twice as long as the first.
However two grand slam champions from 2017 both lost, with Sloane Stephens beaten 6-1 6-2 by Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Jelena Ostapenklo going down to American qualifier Lauren Davis 6-2 6-3.
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