Emma Raducanu claimed a back injury had given her only a “5% chance of winning” after suffering a painful defeat at the Madrid Masters. World No.37 Anhelina Kalinina played superbly to win the first set before the US Open champion took a medical timeout for a sore back.
The British No.1 then refound her recent strong claycourt form to level the match. But with the score at 4-4 in the rollercoaster final set, Raducanu lost her serve for a fifth time and the Ukrainian held her nerve to win 6-2 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes.
The No.9 seed had reckoned she had been in the best form since winning in New York and was seeking three wins in the same event since her Major triumph.
The Bromley teenager, who has suffered a series of injuries, then revealed: “I was struggling a bit with my back. I went into the match with it. Throughout the week I have been carrying some niggles, and it’s kind of just taking its toll, all of the matches at this kind of level.
“From the second game I was really struggling to move wide. I would have given myself a 5% chance of winning that match, and for it to almost happen, I think that was a positive thing.
“But then after, at the timeout, I don’t know what magic they worked, but like I had a numb back for the second and third set so I couldn’t feel anything and managed to fight my way back in and obviously give myself a chance in the third set but small margins.”
While Raducanu prepared without a full-time coach, Kalinina is coached by her husband Anton Korchevskyi and has now beaten consecutive Grand Slam champions after thrashing Garbine Muguruzua in the last round.
Wildcard Jack Draper gave Andrey Rublev a scare – and led 3-0 in the third set – before going down 2-6 6-4 7-5 to the world No.8
World No.1 Novak Djokovic beat Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2 to extend his winning streak against the Frenchman to 18-0.