A tennis prodigy ousted US Open champion Emma Raducanu from a tournament in Romania just days after the home favorite’s first WTA Tour win – then admitted it had been “rough” to see the Brit triumph in New York.
World number 55 Marta Kostyuk sent rival Raducanu crashing out at the Transylvania Open, storming to a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing at the tournament where the Flushing Meadows queen had secured her first fully-fledged WTA win earlier in the week.
Raducanu, whose father is Romanian, charmed locals by giving a post-match interview in their native language immediately after that victory, only to suffer a day to forget against clinical Kostyuk in the quarterfinals.
The winner has never been beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam and was admirably transparent about how she had felt when she watched fellow 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez and Raducanu, who is a year younger, reach the US Open final.
Hmm. She played well, but let’s face facts, that was an absolute shocker from Raducanu. All over the place. Just shows how far she still has to go to be a top player, and more proof of how exceptional her US Open achievement was.
— Jon Kennaugh (@jonkennaugh) October 29, 2021
“I have to be honest, it was a bit rough for me to watch both of their runs,” confessed Kiev-born Kostyuk.
“I’m trying to be the best I can be, so obviously I want to be where they are. I’m sure it’s going to happen soon but I didn’t feel very nice.
“It was very, very inspirational because it gave me strength and I realized that I can do the same thing.
“So this is the thing they gave me, which I’m very thankful for, because leading something is never easy. When you are [leading the pack], it’s always extra pressure.”
While Kostyuk is hitting form – this was her third victory over an opponent ranked inside the top 30 of the season – Raducanu’s purple patch in her stunning achievement in October may have felt a distant memory during another difficult encounter.
“It was a tough match for me,” she admitted afterwards, adding on Instagram that she is “looking forward to what’s ahead” while calling for “good vibes only”.
“I wasn’t physically feeling 100%. I was quite tired and lethargic today, but sometimes you just have those days where you don’t feel your best.
“I knew straight away from practice this morning – I was very, very limited in what I could do. I did try my best but I just really was very, very lethargic on the court.”
Kostyuk put her momentum down to a surprise early breakthrough. “I don’t know how I won the first game,” she conceded.
“Emma had the upper hand on her serve and I think it all started from that moment. I won a game somehow and gained confidence.
“Gradually, I began to understand how to play against her. But this is today. Perhaps in the next match with Emma everything will be different. Everything went quickly.”
Judging by her attitude, Kostyuk will not be overly downhearted to have found herself on the brink of defeat to top seed Simona Halep in her semifinal on Saturday.
“I played against her at Indian Wells… but lost,” she recalled. “I didn’t play very well. Hopefully I can force a fight on her. Even if I fail, it will be an incredible experience.”
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