Emma Raducanu has revealed that she picked up a stomach bug before her Australian Open exit to Wang Yafan and thought she was going to pass out during the match.
The British star lost in the second round at Melbourne Park on Thursday in just her second tournament in nine months after a long spell away with injury and surgery.
Raducanu lost the first set but battled back in the second before requiring a medical time-out in the decider after becoming light-headed and struggling with her breathing, telling her box ‘I want to vomit’.
The 21-year-old only narrowly avoided qualifying for the tournament thanks to her protected ranking and raised fitness concerns prior to the Grand Slam by pulling out of warm-up matches against against Mirra Andreeva and Donna Vekic.
‘I fought really hard in that match,’ Raducanu said after her defeat to Wang. ‘I started feeling really sick when 30-0 up in the third set on my serve.
‘I honestly thought I was going to pass out. From there I dug really deep to try and keep holding my serve.
‘Credit to her, she played well and handled the windy conditions great, better than me. Playing more matches outdoors will help me deal with these conditions better.
‘I felt great after the second set and it definitely wasn’t nerves as I felt really confident and in control.
‘I was playing with composure, believing I would tidy up my errors in the wind. But I had a bit of a stomach bug beforehand and I didn’t have much food.
‘All of a sudden, I just felt so sick, just really weak and nauseous. Throughout the third set I think everyone could see it was a bit of a battle.
‘Like physically, body-wise, I felt fine. It was more that I was throwing up in my mouth. Then after the match, it came out. Now I’m okay. Yeah, I’ll get over it. It just sucks with the timing. I felt good. I felt fine. Yeah, I just had a bit of a bug.’
Raducanu impressed in Auckland earlier this month in what was her first WTA Tour event in nine months, beating Elena-Gabriela Ruse and looking strong in defeat to Elena Svitolina, who compared the former US Open champion to Iga Swiatek.
Reflecting on her early season form, Raducanu, who is now working with new coach Nick Cavaday, added: ‘The trip I can say is a success. The success for me this year is staying healthy and not having any niggles or major setbacks.
‘The work I have been doing with Nick is good. I am enjoying it and I think the level is improving. More time together will be even better. But for the start of the year I am okay with it and I just want to get back and I’m hungry to do more.
‘I’m feeling very positive. I really just want to play a full season. The encouraging thing is, even though I played two back-to-back three-setters in Auckland, a three-setter today, body-wise, strength-wise, I didn’t come up with any random niggles.’
Quizzed what improvements she would like to make before Indian Wells gets underway in March, Raducanu said: ‘Hopefully better in the wind. I think my tennis when it is less [windy] and in practice is a lot better. Hopefully by Indian Wells I will be better after tidying up some bits technically. I still need to be aggressive.’