It was a night of absolute drama at the Australian Open on Thursday, with Emma Raducanu and Elena Rybakina crashing out, and Daniil Medvedev playing until 3.30am before finally prevailing. Raducanu battled a stomach bug and was throwing up on court as she suffered a 4-6 6-4 4-6 loss to Wang Yafan in the second round.
And while the 21-year-old won plenty of admirers for her courage and grit to persevere, her actions during and after the final point of the match drew some criticism. Wang was serving at 5-4, 40-15 when she was brought to the net by a Raducanu drop shot.
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She was forced to play a desperate lunging shot to keep the rally alive, and was left in a precarious position at the net as Raducanu came barrelling in. Rather than try and hit around or over Wang, Raducanu opted to smash the ball straight at her opponent at the net - a common tactic when faced with such a situation.
Emma Raducanu is a disgusting player as she was trying to hit the ball hard to her opponent. Glad the ball hit the nett. Shame on you British player. Happy with her loss!! pic.twitter.com/5nWYBwwRuj
— PDY (@overlordpdy) January 18, 2024
But Raducanu's decision backfired and she fired the ball straight into the net. The tactic of hitting the ball at an opponent is debatable, but it is generally seen as fair game.
But Raducanu's actions after the incident didn't sit well with fans. The 2021 US Open champion didn't apologise to Wang and didn't even appear to congratulate her or saying anything at all as they shook hands.
Congrats to Wang! Good hard-fought win. Rnd2canu showing her lack of class as usual at the end there.
— Alex (@AlexNoctaris) January 18, 2024
That last shot from Raducanu wasn't a good look. Had Wang at her mercy at the net, just needed to lift it over her.
Instead, she tried to put a hole in her and hit it so hard she lost control and put it in the net.#AusOpen #tennis #eurosport
— Jason Lafferty (@jaslafferty) January 18, 2024
Emma trying to smash to Wang on match point, no appologies, very bad sportmanship from Emma, sore loser
— riya sharma (@Diondidm) January 18, 2024
Some defended Raducanu's actions due to her ill health, which may have explained why she wasn't in much of a mood to talk after the final point. “All of a sudden just felt so sick, just really like weak and nauseous,” she said after the match. “Throughout the third set, I think everyone could see it was a bit of a battle. I’ll get over it. It just sucks with the timing.”
Elena Rybakina dumped out after insane 22-20 tiebreaker
Raducanu's loss came as a pre-cursor to some extraordinary scenes at Melbourne Park on Thursday night. The runner-up at the Australian Open last year, Rybakina was dumped out by Anna Blinkova after the longest tiebreak in grand slam history.
Rybakina saved a staggering nine match points before Blinkova prevailed 6-4 4-6 7-6 (22-20) - with the super tiebreaker lasting over half an hour. Blinkova, who saved six match points of her own, said: "I will remember this match for the rest of my life. It took me courage. It took me some certain calmness to stay in the present moment and to play point by point no matter what happens.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2024
Rybakina said: “I’m really proud that I could fight till the end. I mean, you can't always play perfect. And of course I could have lost it even earlier.”
Daniil Medvedev erases two-set deficit in 3.45am victory
The crazy match meant Medvedev didn't get on court until after 11pm, and was pushed to five enthralling sets by Emil Ruusuvuori. By the time the Russian had prevailed 3-6 6-7 (1) 6-4 7-6 (1) 6-0 it was 3.30am, and Medvedev said he wouldn't get to bed until about 6.30.
"If I don't do the physio, I think I don't go out and play in two days," he said in his on-court interview. "If I do the physio, I will see how much I sleep. Maybe if I can sleep from 6 to 12, then some easy practice tomorrow. But, look it can tough, it's not easy - but I want to try to win and I will give my everything, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."
The Russian had a funny message for those still in attendance in the crowd. "Honestly guys... I would not be here," he said. "Thanks for staying. If I was a tennis fan, at one o'clock, I'd say, 'okay let's go and catch the end of the match on TV'. So thanks guys - you're strong."
Medvedev said that he basically started the match exhausted from the Rybakina-Blinkova tie-breaker (me too, Daniil), because of the tension/not knowing when to eat, warm up, get ready etc.
I feel that.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) January 18, 2024
World number 3 Daniil Medvedev down 2 sets in the Australian Open at 1:47am in Melbourne rn, he comes back from this, this match ends at 5am...lol
Crazy tennis day today
British darling Raducanu gone
Medvedev on the brink pic.twitter.com/w9qcvkRJLd
— Derrick X (@DerrickAshimwe) January 18, 2024
Iga played the match of the tournament and then Rybakina-Blinkova said hold my beer. And then Medvedev came out of nowhere and entered into legends day🔥
What a day of tennis man..CRAZYY#AusOpen#AO24 pic.twitter.com/V78KCsVu0T
— Norreenn 🇵🇰 🇵🇸 (@i_norreennnn) January 18, 2024
What a truly sensational day of Tennis man. started off with Iga's match...Alcaraz played..then Rybakina vs Blinkova and ended with Medvedev winning..Ain't complaining tho..Not at all
— Ram jayadev (@Jayadevram10) January 18, 2024
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