Raducanu had beaten former Grand Slam champions Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the previous two rounds but was edged out in a 7-5, 6-4 defeat by Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American ranked eighth in the world brought down to earth.
“I definitely felt like I was pretty nervous tonight, not really knowing — well, knowing how she plays but not really practicing or batting with her,” Pegula said.
“And then playing at night, the conditions are tougher. I just looked so different when I got out of there. I’m happy with how I pulled through and I think another quarter-final.”
Raducanu will begin her US Open title defense in just over a week, relieved to be swinging freely again and playing the same type of attacking tennis that propelled her to a maiden Grand Slam title last year.
The 19-year-old produced ruthless performances at the Cincinnati Open to beat former Major winners Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka before exiting the tournament in a loss to world No. 8 Pegula.
“This week was a big step for me,” she told reporters Thursday night. “Over the past year, it’s probably been like the first tournament or like one of the few tournaments I actually have, like I’ve started to focus more on my shots.
“This week I was just like, ‘Look, I’m just going to try, I don’t care if I make mistakes, like it’s okay, but I’m just going to overdo it, if anything.’ I’m pretty proud of how I did this week and I think it’s a great step to move forward.”
Britain’s Raducanu was a 150th qualifier when she clinched the US Open title last year without dropping a set. Since then she has not won a tournament.
Raducanu, who finished 10th in her career last month, said she was tired of just trying to play defensively and realized she wouldn’t succeed at the highest level just by shoving the ball around.
“It’s definitely like a relief because I feel like I’m swinging with the same kind of freedom that I probably had, more similar to last year,” added Raducanu.
“So it feels really good. I think I can look really positive this week and I actually feel like I’m heading in a good direction again.”
Another American, Madison Keys, earlier ensured Swiatek took her place in the quarterfinals and recorded her first win over a reigning world number one.
Swiatek saved four match points but was far from her best when she exited a second tournament in North American swing in the round of 16 after last week’s Canadian Open.
Keys had failed to make a set from pole in two previous encounters but was far more clinical with her powerful returns and groundstrokes, breaking the world number one five times in a 6-3 6-4 win.
“I’ve obviously had a couple of games with a couple of match points, but I’m just so happy to be able to get the win,” said Keys, the 2019 Cincinnati champion.
“Last time I played her, she beat me pretty badly, so I’m pretty glad I got that under control.”
Keys next meets Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who defeated Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-4 to sail into the quarterfinals.
Wimbledon second and fifth Saat Ons Jabeur also managed her exit, led out the door by two-time Major winner Petra Kvitova 6-1 4-6 6-0.
Next, Kvitova meets Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who pulled off a stunning comeback to defeat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 3-6 7-6(4) 6-3 to reach her maiden WTA 1000 Quarterfinals.
“The restaurant is still open and I’m going to get five Graeter’s ice creams,” said Tomljanovic, who resigned after her previous game at 1.30am local time on Thursday.
World no. 4.
Last year’s US Open semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka defeated Shelby Rogers 6-4 6-7(2) 6-4, sealing the win with a backhand winner down the line.
“It was a crazy match, she played incredible tennis,” said Sabalenka, who will face Zhang in the next round.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/emma-raducanu-iga-swiatek-cincinnati-masters-b2148314.html Emma Raducanu’s Cincinnati run ends in the round of 16 as Iga Swiatek also suffers a loss