Raducanu stunned the sporting world last year when she went from qualifier to women’s singles champion in an incredible 14 days in New York. But she got stuck against Cornet, who was playing in her 63rd consecutive Grand Slam. Cornet defeated Raducanu 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 42 minutes.
“Of course I’m disappointed to have lost the first round,” said Raducanu. “Yeah, I mean, thanks to Alize, she played pretty well. I mean [it is] of course very disappointing [I’m] really sad to leave here. It’s probably my favorite tournament.
“But also, I mean, in a way [I’m] happy because it’s a clean slate. I will drop the leaderboard. Climb my way back up.”
It was a match in which both players struggled to hold serve in blustery conditions at Louis Armstrong Stadium and there were five breaks of serve in the first set.
“I think it was pretty windy,” Raducanu said. “It was blowing from the back to the front. It was quite difficult for me to find my ball shot in particular. I think I hit quite a few serves long. I just had trouble really getting used to it.
“And, I mean, it’s something that both players have to deal with. She just coped better than me today.”
Raducanu took medical time out at the end of the first set to treat her right hand after suffering blisters there during Friday’s training session.
“I have a new one,” Raducanu said. “But you stick it on and move on it. It’s a bubble. Not much you can do about it.”
Cornet and Raducanu traded breaks early in the second set, but the key magic came in game seven when Cornet broke Raducanu’s serve to take a 4-3 lead. She held on in eighth place and needed just a match point to break Raducanu again and advance to the second round.
The win is another highlight of Cornet’s year after she reached the Australian Open quarter-finals and defeated world No. 1 Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon.
Raducanu will fall through the loss in the WTA rankings as she loses 2030 points she gained here last year. This is her first full year on the WTA Tour. She lost in the second round at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon before that first-round elimination at Flushing Meadows.
“Of course, this one hurts a bit because it’s my favorite tournament and it’s obviously brought a lot of emotions with it over the past year,” she said.
“Yeah, I mean I’m proud to show myself in every game, every day. As if I know I’m trying to do the best I can.”
She added: “I mean, in a way, the target will be slightly off my back. Yes, I only have one more chance to fight my way back there.”
Raducanu is unsure what her next steps will be and what tournaments she will be competing in for the rest of the year. She was also non-binding on whether she will continue working with coach Dmitry Tursunov, who has been with her for the past six weeks.
She feels her main goal of improvement is to have better consistency over the next year.
“If I look at how much tennis I’ve played or trained this year, it’s very, very low,” she said.
“We were actually counting the days.
“From Rome to just after Wimbledon I only played tennis about 14 days in two and a half months or so. It was pretty wild.
“I think the most important thing for me is the consistency of these weeks, the training and the competition. You lose a match, you’re at the practice ground two days later or something. It’s just not about having those big gaps.”