Defending champion Emma Raducanu has seen her US Open title defence end at the first hurdle courtesy of a straight-sets defeat to Alize Cornet in the opening round at Flushing Meadows.
The 19-year-old produced one of the most remarkable triumphs in tennis history to take the title as a qualifier in New York last year, but could not come close to replicating that dream run this time around.
Cornet ran out a 6-3 6-3 winner over the British number one, who will now lose that title to Harriet Dart should Dart beat Hungary’s Dalma Galfi in the second round.
Raducanu, who is currently ranked 11th in the world, is also set to plummet down the overall rankings as she will lose the points that last year’s US Open title earned her.
The teenager made a positive start to the match by breaking her opponent in the very first game, but she then lost four of the next five games to hand Cornet the advantage.
Raducanu was only able to win one of her four service games in the opening set as Cornet took it in just under an hour, and the 32-year-old Frenchwoman carried that form against the serve into the second set too.
Cornet broke in the opening game and, although Raducanu produced a run of three games in a row immediately after that to at least go down swinging in her title defence, the world number 40 then reeled off five games on the bounce to secure the victory.
“This one obviously hurts a bit because it’s my favourite tournament and there are a lot of emotions in the past year,” Raducanu told reporters after the defeat.
“I’m proud for putting myself out there every match, every day, knowing I’m pushing myself to be the best I can.
“The way that the conditions were, it was quite difficult because the ball was moving around for me to really swing. Alize’s defence was pretty good. Like, I thought she was just scrapping everything back.
“There were junk balls in the middle of the court. With the wind blowing around, it was really difficult. She just kept getting it back.”
Raducanu, who made 31 unforced errors in total in addition to losing seven of her nine service games, revealed afterwards that she had suffered from blisters during the match.
“I’ve been getting some blisters throughout the weeks in the States. But I think that’s just down to humidity and stuff,” she added.
“You tape it up and move on it. It’s a blister. Not much you can do about it.”
Cornet will face Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova in the second round.