After being partnered with 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens, Emma Raducanu has been dealt a terrible draw at the Australian Open.
Raducanu will be competing in her first Grand Slam since winning the US Open in September, and her form leading up to the tournament has been a source of worry after a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Elena Rybakina in Sydney on Wednesday.
“After the match I got a box of balls and went straight to the practice court,” Raducanu told reporters after the loss against Rybakina.
“I felt I could have done some things better and I wanted to try and fix it straight away, just leave with a better feeling about it.
“At the end of the day I just want to keep putting myself out there. Even if I keep getting knocked down, it’s just about getting back up and basically just falling in front. You’re one step better, you learn more.”
“I could have easily said it’s too soon and just play next week, but I wanted to really give myself some competitive points and matches. I think this will help in putting me in a better place for next week.”
The other two British seeds at the Australian Open had tough draws as well, with 12th seed Cameron Norrie facing fast-rising young American Sebastian Korda and 24th seed Dan Evans facing former top-10 star David Goffin, assuming he recovers in time from an injury that forced him to withdraw from his match against Andy Murray on Thursday.
Heather Watson has been partnered with Egypt's Mayar Sherif, while defending champion Naomi Osaka and world number one Ashleigh Barty might meet in the fourth round.
The Victoria Government declared on Thursday that ticket sales for the Australian Open will be limited at 50% of capacity, dealing another blow to the tournament's organizers, who have been criticized for their role in the Novak Djokovic disaster.
However, no tickets will be canceled, indicating that sales have been slower than Tennis Australia had intended.
Due to huge additional expenses associated with chartering flights and paying for players to quarantine for two weeks, as well as fewer audiences, including a temporary lockdown mid-tournament, the governing board lost $100 million on last year's event.