Emma Raducanu pleads for someone to 'hold her hand' after back injury forces retirement

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Emma Raducanu vs Bianca Andreescu live: Score and latest updates from the Italian Open 2022 - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu vs Bianca Andreescu live: Score and latest updates from the Italian Open 2022 - GETTY IMAGES
  • Andreescu wins first set 6-2 with Raducanu suffering with back problem

  • Raducanu retires 2-1 down in the second set as injury persists

Another injury retirement forced Emma Raducanu to concede that she wished she had someone to "hold her hand" and tell her what to do, after misjudging the severity of an ongoing back issue halted her French Open preparations. Raducanu took a medical timeout late in the first set on Tuesday due to back stiffness, and later decided she could not physically finish the match after going 6-2 2-1 down to fellow US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

The sight of Raducanu gingerly holding her back, and saying "I can't move" to the trainer on court was all the more concerning as it came just seven days after the same problem hampered her third-round loss at the Madrid Open, suggesting this might be more serious than she initially thought. The retirement also adds to the long list of ailments that have disrupted her season so far.

Despite having confidence in her ability to make decisions on court without a head coach, after ending her partnership with Torben Beltz last month, the latest setback pushed the 19-year-old to admit that her independence did not make her immune to indecision. Suggesting she was unlikely to play any more tennis ahead of the French Open, which starts in just under two weeks, Raducanu said knowing when to push her body was something she still has not mastered.

"Of course I want to play every opportunity I have, and probably even when I shouldn't," she said after Tuesday's disappointing tournament exit. "But I just really need to be sensible. Sometimes I feel like I need a voice to, you know, just hold my hand, [say] 'Do this, do that.'"

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES

Raducanu ended her partnership with Beltz after just six months and has moved into a less conventional coaching set up, where she has taken ownership over her development and opted to work without one single person at the helm.

In Rome, as in Madrid last week, she was joined by the LTA's head of British tennis Iain Bates for support, but the decisions on her physical ability to compete are ultimately falling on her. Though she had doubts ahead of her first round match, due to stiffness in her back at Monday's practice, she had pushed through regardless, because she did not want to give up before the tie had even started.

It is a measure of her competitiveness and consistent with the approach she has taken throughout her first full season on tour, where she played through blister trouble in Melbourne, retired from her match in Guadalajara with a hip injury, put painful toenails aside and took to the court in the Billie Jean King Cup and now again in Rome.

"It obviously sucks because I just feel like a lot of the matches, looking back, I'm either playing with like this or that," she said of the recurring ailments. "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. Also back to back, playing week in, week out. Looking back, since Fed Cup I've been home, like, for one day. 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."

Though she said it was too early to tell how she would feel for Paris in less than two weeks, Raducanu vowed to allow herself a full recovery before she played again. "Obviously I would not want to miss the French Open - the whole clay season leads up to it. I think the last few weeks have been really positive. I've learnt a lot about myself and my game has definitely improved on this surface. But for sure I need to make sure my back is fully right, however long that takes. I don't want to play my next match with a feeling of limitation because I think that I learnt my lesson from this week, when to push, when not to push. Probably today wasn't right."

Though she fought through to the start of the second set, Raducanu was clearly off her game from the off where the Canadian looked back to her best after a few months off to focus on her mental health. The flat encounter was a crying shame, not least because it had all the makings of a classic, especially with two champions whose stories are full of parallels, with both of them being of Romanian descent and winning the US Open as teenagers.

Where Raducanu will hope the parallels end is in their injury luck, as Andreescu was sidelined for months on end through injury as a teen at the top of her game.

Emma Raducanu retires injured at Italian Open, as it happened:

05:06 PM

That's all from me...

But read Molly McElwee's report for a full recap of a disappointing day for Emma Raducanu.

05:04 PM

A fair point from my esteemed colleague?

05:01 PM

It seems Raducanu needs a break to get on top of her injuries...

But she seems determined to play at the moment. Maybe today's retirement will convince her to.

04:44 PM

Emma Raducanu was treated off court during the first set before retiring early in the second

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES

04:41 PM

Tim Henman speaks on court in Rome

This is first and foremost a physical problem. She has not had the opportunity to put in that work away from tournament play. She has been playing catch up.

It is hard for her as, without a coach, she will have to shoulder all the responsbility. Her small team around her will need to help.

She can play well on this surface. She needs to build resistance into her body.

04:36 PM

The physio is back onto the court... and that is it!

Raducanu's back is still causing problems. That is that, she is retiring! Shame, but probably smart.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain receives treatment in her women's singles first round match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES

04:34 PM

*Raducanu 2-6, 1-2 Andreescu (*denotes server)

After some confusion from the umpire, the first point of the game will be replayed. Raducanu wins it.

A powerful serve is too good for Andreescu. 30-0. The Canadian fights back well, hitting a winner from a drop shot. 30-15.

Andreescu moves to parity. Raducanu nudges back in front after her second serve is sent into the net. Andreescu fights back. Deuce.

Raducanu wins a rally full of powerful strikes from both players. Andreescu hits a winner to get back to deuce.

Raducanu's first serve is long - as is her second! Advantage Andreescu. She finds the net. Back to deuce.

Advantage Raducanu. And back to deuce after an unforced error.

Andreescu moves to advantage but Raducanu disagrees with her line call. They talk about it, nothing changes. Andreescu then breaks! Big moment.

04:26 PM

Raducanu 2-6, 1-1 Andreescu* (*denotes server)

Andreescu takes the first point of her service game after a long rally. A superb drop shot takes her to 30-0.

Ace. And then another point. Andreescu holds.

04:23 PM

*Raducanu 2-6, 1-0 Andreescu (*denotes server)

Raducanu wins the first point of the second set before losing the next. A wide serve sees her move to 30-15.

Raducanu slips after serving, allowing Andreescu to win the point with a shot down the middle of the court. 30-30.

The Brit moves in front after winning a point on her second serve. Andreescu takes it to deuce.

Raducanu moves to advantage after the Canadian finds the net. She holds after a long rally!

04:19 PM

Raducanu does not look particularly comfortable

Her back is clearly causing problems. Will she carry on?

04:16 PM

Set Andreescu! Raducanu 2-6 Andreescu* (*denotes server)

Andreescu wins the first point, slamming a smash past Raducanu, who seems to be hitting her shots from the back of the court with more height on them since returning. An ace follows. 30-0.

A backhand down the line takes the Canadian to set point. And there it is! That was all rather easy.

04:13 PM

Raducanu is back on court!

Game on.

04:11 PM

Andreescu is staying warm...

Practising some serves. She just needs an opponent.

04:08 PM

Raducanu calls for a physio...

It may be her back. It is. She is heading off for some treatment away from court.

04:06 PM

*Raducanu 2-5 Andreescu (*denotes server)

Raducanu starts well, but then loses the second point. 15-15. Raducanu moves back in front and executes an ace. 40-15.

Andreescu wins the next point, leaving Raducanu with a pressure serve. Her first effort is long and she then loses a long rally after hitting a shot just long. Deuce.

Raducanu moves to advantage. She holds! Lovely forehand to end the game.

04:01 PM

Raducanu 1-5 Andreescu* (*denotes server)

Raducanu needs to break here and wrestle back some momentum. She starts well, hitting a forehand winner down the line. She is then aced on a second serve...

Andreescu moves to 30-15 with a cross-court forehand. And repeat. 40-15. Game Andreescu! It is all looking a bit easier for the Canadian at the moment.

03:56 PM

*Raducanu 1-4 Andreescu (*denotes server)

Raducanu's serving game starts poorly, losing the first two points. A second serve is then dealt with by Andreescu. 0-40.

Raducanu wins a long rally to get on the board. Andreescu breaks! It is not looking good for Raducanu.

03:54 PM

Raducanu 1-3 Andreescu* (*denotes server)

Andreescu continues her strong start, winning the first two points on her serve. She is made to work harder for the third point, before Raducanu gets on the board with a lovely cross-court forehand. Andreescu double faults. 40-30.

Deuce! The game was there for Andreescu to take but she hits the net from close range.

A powerful forehand winner gives the Canadian advantage. Game Andreescu!

03:47 PM

*Raducanu 1-2 Andreescu (*denotes server)

Andreescu' strong start continues, winning the first three points of Raducanu's save. She is striking her returns very powerfully. Raducanu responds with a much-needed ace.

And another. Andreescu has had five break-points so far, and cashed in on zero. Raducanu wins a long rally to take it to deuce.

Andreescu moves to advantage. Raducanu's first serve is long. And it is a double fault!

03:42 PM

Raducanu 1-1 Andreescu* (*denotes server)

Andreescu's serving game starts nicely, following up her first serve with a forehand winner. She then wins the next three points with ease. Comfortable hold.

03:39 PM

*Raducanu 1-0 Andreescu (*denotes server)

Raducanu follows up her first serve of the match with a deft drop shot that Andreescu cannot reach. Nice start. Andreescu responds well, hammering a winner down the line. 15-15.

The Canadian wins the next two points, Raducanu's forehand struggling for accuracy. 15-40. An ace takes it to 30-40.

Another ace ensures Andreescu cannot capitalise on either of her break points. Advantage Raducanu after another powerful serve. And back to deuce.

Raducanu fires down another ace! She has advantage, but a strong forehand from Andreescu takes it back to deuce.

Another strong serve takes Raducanu back to advantage. A clever drop shot from the Canadian returns us back to deuce. Marathon game to start!

Andreescu moves to advantage. Raducanu's first serve hits the net and her second leads to her winning the point after a long rally.

Raducanu holds! Two powerful serves secure her the first game. Raducanu's serve has started really well.

03:30 PM

Here we go!

Raducanu will serve first.

03:25 PM

It is warm and sunny in Rome

It is 22 degrees at the moment, the weather starting to cool off a touch.

03:22 PM

Raducanu is out on court!

Play will begin shortly.

03:10 PM

Osorio wins!

That is that. Raducanu is on court next.

03:08 PM

Osorio has broken back...

5-3. Raducanu will, hopefully, be on court very soon.

03:04 PM

Bronzetti has broken!

It is now 4-3 in the second set.

02:58 PM

Bronzetti has fought back to 4-2

Osiro is still in the driving seat. Raducanu has been warming-up for a while at this point...

02:46 PM

Osorio is now 3-0 in the second set

Raducanu could be on very soon at this rate...

02:43 PM

Raducanu is getting ready off court at the moment

02:37 PM

Raducanu is expected on court in around 30 minutes

The battle in Osorio v Bronzetti is very closely contested, however.

02:21 PM

Osorio takes the first set against Bronzetti

After a tie-break, Osorio takes the first set. Raducanu is on court after this match.

02:11 PM

Osorio v Bronzetti has gone to a tie-break in the first set

The wait for Raducanu goes on.

02:08 PM

Emma Raducanu and Coco Gauff warmed up on the same court earlier on

02:01 PM

Away from Raducanu... Meet Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish teenager set to replace the 'Big Three'

For so long the question has been who will replace the “Big Three” in men’s tennis? At the weekend, it felt like we finally had a definitive answer: Carlos Alcaraz. In beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in quick succession at the Madrid Open, the Spanish teenager became the first man to do so at the same clay-court event. He also annihilated one-time heir-apparent and world No 3 Alexander Zverev in the final, taking his seventh consecutive top-10 scalp.

Read Molly McElwee's full piece here

01:54 PM

Emma Raducanu on Bianca Andreescu

The 10th-seeded Emma Raducanu opens her tournament today against Bianca Andreescu, 21, who is ranked 111th and entered the tournament with a protected ranking, but has risen as high as fourth in the world.

Here is what Raducanu had to say about her:

We are both pretty good players; it’s going to be a good match-up, for sure. She’s a great athlete and obviously a champion. She’s got a really good attitude.

01:46 PM

Raducanu may not be on court for a little while...

Camila Osorio has fought back to 3-2 up after losing the first two games of the first set against Lucia Bronzetti.

We could be waiting a little while for Raducanu to appear on court yet...

01:38 PM

Emma Raducanu has made an impressive start to her clay court career

Simon Briggs took a look at why that is, before her defeat in Madrid.

Read the full piece here

01:29 PM

Cameron Norrie has just won his opening round match

Norrie defeated Italian teenager Luca Nardi 6-4, 6-4 to progress to the second round.

Camila Osorio vs Lucia Bronzetti is now taking place on the Grandstand Court, then it is Raducanu's turn.

Cameron Norrie of Great Britain reacts in his men's singles first round match against Luca Nardi of Italy during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES
Cameron Norrie of Great Britain reacts in his men's singles first round match against Luca Nardi of Italy during day three of Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 10, 2022 in Rome, Italy. - GETTY IMAGES

09:45 AM

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of the Emma Raducanu at the Italian Open

U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu has little experience on clay at the elite level but the 19-year-old says she is heading in the right direction on the surface ahead of the French Open starting later this month.

Raducanu has had mixed results following her maiden Grand Slam title at last year's U.S. Open but has had an encouraging run in the claycourt season where she reached the Stuttgart quarter-finals and Madrid last-16.

She has been figuring out how to adapt to the surface without the help of a full-time coach after splitting with Torben Beltz last month, and the Briton has taken a liking to the independence of coaching herself.

"I'd describe myself as a loner," Raducanu, who faces Bianca Andreescu in the Italian Open first round this week, told reporters.

"For the past year... I've had a lot of people around me a lot and very often.

"To be on my own is interesting because I'm kind of finding out a lot about myself, understanding what I need and what I don't need."

Raducanu played her first professional match on clay in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers last month and said she has been learning about the surface as she plays.

"Clay is very new to me," she added.

"I definitely feel like I have been progressing with each week, improving, getting a better understanding of how to play points, when to stay in the point or when to stay aggressive.

"I don't think I'm like the finished product at all. But, yeah, I'm heading in a good direction."

Raducanu also confirmed she will play in front of a British crowd at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham next month.

It is set to be a first competitive appearance in her home country for the 19-year-old since her remarkable US Open triumph.

Raducanu's only previous WTA Tour event in Britain was in Nottingham last summer prior to her big breakthrough at Wimbledon.

PA