Emma Raducanu: British no 1 knocked out in 55 minutes in first match of the year at Sydney Classic

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  • Emma Raducanu
    Emma Raducanu
    British professional tennis player
  • Elena Rybakina
    Kazakh female tennis player

Emma Raducanu has lost her opening match of the year after being knocked out in less than an hour at the Sydney Classic.

The 19-year-old fell in straight sets to rival Elena Rybakina, 22, who won 6-0 6-1 at the Ken Rosewall Arena - narrowly avoiding a so-called "double bagel" defeat.

Raducanu punched the air with relief after finally getting on the board in the 10th game of the match, having lost nine successive games.

But it wasn't enough to stop world number 13, Rybakina, who claimed victory in just 55 minutes.

It puts the British number one on the back foot ahead of the Australian Open.

She is currently 17th seed ahead of the draw for the Grand Slam on Thursday, with matches due to begin on Monday.

Raducanu had been due to compete at the Melbourne Summer Set last week - but pulled out of the warm-up event after testing positive for COVID in December.

Meanwhile Rybakina was match-ready after reaching the final of the Adelaide International - with her winning streak only halted by world no 1, Ash Barty.

Raducanu was welcomed on to the court with a warm reception from spectators - and gained an early advantage going up 40-15 in her opening service game.

But she couldn't sustain the momentum with Rybakina bringing her back to deuce.

The tennis ace then saved a break point before a third double fault of the game handed the ninth seed the early advantage.

Raducanu was taking part in her first competition under the stewardship of new head coach Torben Beltz, who was appointed in November last year.

The teenager, from Bromley, London, is not used to tasting defeat after clinching the US Open without losing a single set and becoming Britain's first grand slam winner since 1977.

She also beat stiff competition including Olympic diver Tom Daley and swimming star Adam Peaty to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year - although she was forced to give her speech via videolink in Abu Dhabi after her positive COVID diagnosis.

It comes as Australian Open number one seed, Novak Djokovic, returned to practice on the tennis court after winning a court appeal against the cancellation of his visa.

However Australian authorities are now investigating the declaration form the Serbian athlete, who has not been vaccinated against COVID, provided to enter the country.

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