Blistering to her racquet hand helped cost Emma Raducanu progress beyond the Australian Open second round.
The US Open champion was beaten 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 by world no.98 Danka Kovinic in Melbourne on Thursday.
Raducanu complained of a blister to her right hand as soon as the fifth game of the first set, which allowed her Montenegrin opponent gain a significant foothold in their match.
The 19-year old Englishwoman was forced to radically alter her game, and was heard to yelp in pain when sending a forehand back to Kovinic.
Despite her obvious discomfort, Raducanu broke Kovinic in the first game of the second set, battling on to win it 6-4.
In the end, however, Kovinic picked apart Raducanu's changed-up game, putting the third set away 6-3.
"I have been struggling with blisters since I started playing in Australia," Raducanu said afterwards, whose preparation for the Australian Open was hampered by a dose of COVID-19.
History maker 🇲🇪@DankaKovinic upsets Emma Raducanu 6-4 4-6 6-3 to become the first player representing Montenegro to reach the third round of a Grand Slam.
🎥: @wwos • @espn • @Eurosport • @wowowtennis #AusOpen • #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/wauKCPG1KU
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
"Twenty-one days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft. From day one, day two, I was getting blisters pop up here and there. This particular one has been with me for about five days.
"But I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me. I discovered tools about myself and my game that I didn't know I had before, so I can take some positives even from this match.
Kovinic will play another Grand Slam-winner in round-3, Simona Halep.
The Romanian - seeded 14 this year in Melbourne - lost just two games in a rout of Brazilian, Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza was not so lucky, beaten in straight sets by Alizé Cornet.
While second seed Aryna Sabalenka was taken the distance for the second consecutive match, this time stumbling past Xinyu Wang. Next up for her is 31st seed, Marketa Vondrousova.
Anna Kontaveit - the sixth seed - lost in straight sets to world no.39 Clara Tauson, and the Dane will play Danielle Collins in the third round.
Also progressing was seventh seed Iga Swiatek, who beat Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-2, and she'll play former French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Daria Kasatkina.
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