Emma Raducanu says she needs to “cut myself some slack” after her return to the court following her sensational US Open triumph ended in defeat in Indian Wells.
It has been 27 days since the 18-year-old stunned the world to become the queen of New York in a fairytale story, but she could not reproduce that level in the Californian desert, going down 6-2 6-4 to Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
While that victory at Flushing Meadows and the invitations to the red-carpet events that followed helped catapult her into a global star, that is perhaps at odds with her real standing in the game.
This was just her third WTA Tour event, and she has yet to win a match, and she now has to get used to life on tour and learn to deal with opponents – and defeats – like this on a weekly basis.
Expectations may have been high externally, but Raducanu is mature enough to know that everything is not going to be plain sailing.
“I think it’s going to take me time to adjust really to what’s going on,” she said. “I mean, I’m still so new to everything.
“Like the experiences that I’m going through right now, even though I might not feel 100 per cent amazing right now, I know they’re for the greater good.
“For the bigger picture, I’ll be thanking this moment. So, that’s the lesson I think, that you can easily get sucked into being so focused on the result and getting disappointed.
“I mean, I’m 18 years old. I need to cut myself some slack.
“I’m still very, very new to the tour. I think that experience just comes from playing week in, week out and experiencing all these different things.
“I’m kind of glad that what happened today happened so I can learn and take it as a lesson. So going forward, I’ll just have more experienced banked.”
Raducanu claimed glory in New York with an all-out attacking style, but she was unable to replicate it in alien conditions, spraying a raft of unforced errors and getting caught out by Sasnovich’s plucky defence.
She wrestled back some momentum in the second set and a comeback looked on the cards as she led 4-2, but the errors returned and the Belarussian, a former top 30 player, rattled off four games to clinch victory.
Asked what the crucial factor at 4-2 in the second set was, she replied: “Well, her experience probably.
“She’s been on tour, probably been 4-2 down like hundreds of times whereas I’ve been 4-2 up. It’s my third WTA tournament this year. I mean, it will come in time. Just got to not rush it and keep going and get my head back to the drawing board really.
“You definitely get sharp by playing matches. I’m not match-tight right now. Like I haven’t played a competition in a month, since the US Open. That will just come just playing week in, week out.
“I didn’t go in there putting any pressure on myself because in my mind I’m so inexperienced that all these, I’m just taking it all in.
“You’re going to have highs and you’re always going to have some lows where you’re disappointed with how you performed. Aliaksandra played an extremely great match.
“She has played, you could tell she’s more experienced than me. She went out there and executed her game plan better than I did. She, of course, deserved to win that.”