With her current world ranking of No. 262, the British sensation relied on a wild card to play in the first WTA 1000 tournament of the season in Doha, where a jam-packed 64-player draw is headed by the top-ranked women on tour.
But the 21-year-old was slow off the blocks, dropping the first set 6-0 to Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina in just 23 minutes. However, her level improved significantly in the second set, in which she saved a couple of match points to force a tie-break.
Raducanu stood on the brink of taking the match into a decider when she held a set point at 6-5 in the breaker. But that was quickly snuffed away as Kalinina tallied three straight points to win the match.
Although the Briton regained her level in the second set, which lasted over an hour, she was forthright in her performance while speaking to Sky Sports. She was far from happy, adding that a number of factors contributed to the meek exit, including the conditions.
"I felt like I never really got into it. I think it’s a combination of things. It’s like my first day match I think I’ve played in a year, so that’s different."
"Honestly, I think I need to practice training outside a bit more because it’s very different and also the light conditions, like shadows – it’s really hard to kind of see the ball, I found towards the end. When the tennis isn’t there, you have to at least try to fight and I think I did that in the second set."
Having rejoined the WTA tour at the start of 2024 following a considerable period of rehabilitation from triple surgery, tennis fans were anxious to see how she would fare. While results have eluded her, Raducanu's efforts were noticeable in matches in Auckland and the Australian Open.
But she's been handed a reality check in the Middle East and revealed she had a bad day at the office on Monday. However, the former US Open champion remains confident of finding her feet very soon with more practice sessions under her belt.
"I think I was struggling with everything, like serve, return, forehand, backhand. It was one of those days. I think it was hard because she had a really good backhand."
"Even if you went line, you had to make sure it was a really good shot because otherwise, she’d take you off cross-court. I just struggled with the timing of the ball, to be honest. I think it’s going to come with more time practicing as well as matches."