Emma Raducanu marks her debut in the competition on Friday by beating Tereza
Martincova in her first professional match on clay but struggles with a blister
on her right foot on Saturday; Harriet Dart and Katie Swan were beaten in the doubles decider to hand the Czech Republic victory
Last Updated: 16/04/22 5:24pm
Emma Raducanu suffered significant blister issues on her right foot as Great Britain’s hopes of qualifying for the Billie Jean King Cup finals ended in a gutsy 3-2 defeat to the Czech Republic.
Raducanu’s 6-1 6-1 loss to Marketa Vondrousova in only 62 minutes meant Britain went 2-1 down, before Harriet Dart sent the tie into a deciding doubles rubber with a 6-0 5-7 6-2 victory against 16-year-old debutant Linda Fruhvirtova.
Captain Anne Keothavong named Dart in her doubles line-up along with Katie Swan, while the Czechs went with Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova.
Dart and Swan battled to overcome a poor start, fighting back from 1-4 in the second set to level, but Vondrousova and Muchova clinched a 6-1 7-5 victory to give the Czechs a passage through to November’s finals.
Britain could yet join the Czechs if the Lawn Tennis Association is successful in its bid to host the event.
Czech Republic vs Great Britain – Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier
|Vondrousova bt Dart 6-1 6-0|
|Raducanu bt Martincova 7-5 7-5|
|Vondrousova bt Raducanu 6-1 6-1|
|Dart bt Fruhvirtova 6-0 5-7 6-2|
|Vondrousova & Muchova bt Dart & Swan 6-1 7-5|
Blister issues for Raducanu
Raducanu made her debut in the competition on Friday and was victorious in her first professional match on clay as she beat Tereza Martincova 7-5 7-5, but Saturday’s contest was a different story for the 19-year-old.
In extremely cold conditions, Raducanu struggled from early on and lost the first set in just 26 minutes. The medical timeout between sets to receive treatment on her right foot did little to ease her issues.
The British No 1 was barely able to move for several balls in the second set, wincing and limping between points.
Raducanu said of the blister: “It kind of showed up after yesterday’s match. We’ve been managing it but as you saw I couldn’t really move or load either way and now it’s just about trying to get it better as soon as possible.
“It completely stopped me from moving. It’s tough not to be even able to chase the ball. Even if a ball came around me, I was struggling to get my feet out of the way.
“It was compromising every shot I had to play. It’s very disappointing when you’re out there playing a rubber for your country and you feel completely redundant.”
It is the latest in a series of physical issues for Raducanu, who began the season playing catch-up after contracting coronavirus. She struggled with a blister on her hand at the Australian Open, pulled out during a match in Mexico with a thigh problem and was hampered by a stiff back in Indian Wells.
The 19-year-old admitted her frustration, saying: “This has happened quite a few times now and we need to nip it in the bud.
“Of course it’s frustrating but in some sort of twisted way, it gives me a sense of confidence and relief that I don’t think it’s my tennis that’s the issue. I think my tennis level is pretty good it’s just about being able to repeat it or maintain it and not be hampered by any sort of physical issues.”
Raducanu now faces a race against time to be fit for next week’s WTA Tour event in Stuttgart.
Keothavong: Team scarred by Raducanu toes
During the draw ceremony for this tie in Prague, Keothavong and Raducanu provided insights into the physical effects a clay court can have on an athlete.
Raducanu, who is at the start of the first clay-court swing of her professional career, has acutely felt the surface’s impact.
“I have no toenails,” the British No 1 said. “Just my foot, my shoes, they’ve just been sliding around a lot. I had a small niggle in Miami, but now I have no physical thing.”
Keothavong then joked: “We’re all a little scarred by Emma’s toes.”
Before her loss to Vondrousova, Raducanu had spoken positively about her prospects on the surface.
The teenager said: “I genuinely believe that clay could be one of my strongest surfaces because of the moving aspect. I do like moving.
“I feel like I have a lot more potential physically. And I do enjoy sliding. After spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better and learn more about the surface.”
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