Emma Raducanu gained as much from her defeat at the Australian Open as Andy Murray lost from his exit yesterday. While the ceiling to the Murray comeback was shown again in his inability to back up matches at the big events in the autumn of his career, Raducanu’s performance pointed to why she will not end up being a flash in a US Open pan.
She is out, yes, but the on-the-hoof problem solving she came up with to work around her painful blistering, using an improvised forehand slice to take Danka Kovinic the distance, showcased her tactical acumen as well as her tenacity.
Ultimately it was not enough and Kovinic prevailed but Raducanu departed with head held high and with a valuable experience under her belt.
“I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me — I learnt I had some tools that I didn’t know I had before,” said Raducanu.
“I do not hit slice forehands, I probably hit more in that match than I did in the last three years.
“I also learnt that I have got some hand skills, even though some people tell me I’ve got the hands of a bricklayer.
“If I can use these sort of hand skills, and improve it going forward and mix it with my aggressive game, I think I can be pretty dangerous.”
Defeat does not always have to mean disaster. This was, remember, just her third Grand Slam and while the second round was also her earliest exit there was much to be taken from her make-do-and-mend display.
A blister does not sound debilitating but her revelation that she was advised not to take the court at all because of the damage to her right hand showed the handicap she was operating under.
“You think, like how can a small thing like a blister cause so much pain and aggravation? But it’s just the position of it. It’s right in the crease. I just can’t grip the racquet,” she said.
“I have had blisters before but never this bad. It’s a bit annoying, because I know it’s something that will heal in a few days, but it’s just unfortunate timing.
“I actually wasn’t hitting forehands in practice the last few days. I was only saving it for my match. I wasn’t hitting serves, either. So the only thing I was really practising was my backhand.”
The fact she devised an alien way to play that could keep her in the game was a credit to her.
“I’m proud of how I kept fighting — even in those situations where I was struggling. I kept hanging in there,” she said.
At 19, Raducanu probably has another decade of Australian Opens or more in her. She will win at least one of them.