Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu is out of the 2024 Australian Open after a three-set defeat to Yafan Wang. Loren Elliott/Reuters

Britain's Emma Raducanu fell to defeat in the second round of the 2024 Australian Open on Thursday as China's Yafan Wang battled to a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory.

The loss brings an end to Raducanu's first Grand Slam tournament appearance since having to undergo wrist and ankle operations last year. For Wang, the win is a special moment for her as she will enter the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.

Raducanu had ideal preparation for her second-round matchup as she breezed past Shelby Rogers in the first round on Tuesday.

However, the 21-year-old began Thursday's contest against Wang on the backfoot as she struggled to deal with the windy conditions and suffered an early break. Wang adjusted to the tricky conditions much better and found herself 5-2 up in the first set.

There was a response from Raducanu as she won the next two games, but Wang was able to restore her lead as she held serve to take the opening set 6-4. Wang kept her momentum going as she broke Raducanu early in the second set and led 2-0.

Raducanu was able to fight back and levelled the set at 2-2 before breaking Wang again in the eighth game to lead 5-3. The Brit had the chance to serve for the second set, but she failed to convert two match points whilst serving and had to break Wang in the following game to eventually secure the second set 6-4.

Problems began to arise for Raducanu early on in the third set as she trailed 2-0 after again being broken early in the set by Wang. Another issue for the Brit was that she found herself retching and struggling to breathe properly.

Her deteriorating physical state meant she had to take a medical time out and have her blood pressure assessed by a doctor, before taking medication to cope.

The two players engaged in back-and-forth rallies as the third set wore on and despite Raducanu coming close to breaking her opponent, Wang was able to hold her serve for the rest of the deciding set and closed it out 6-4 to secure the victory.

After a contest lasting nearly three hours, Raducanu was not too downbeat about the defeat and reflected on the progress made since her injuries. She said: "I'm very positive, very happy with how my body is. At some points, I couldn't really see the ball very well, but I think with everything I went through last year, it's made me so much tougher."

The Brit went on to speak about her physical struggles in the third set and how she was determined to see the match through. She stated: "There was no way I was going to pull out. She was going to have to beat me, and she did. She served it out."

The next Grand Slam, the French Open, is still four months away, so Raducanu has time to build on her return to the court. She could be back in action next month at either the Qatar TotalEnergies Open or the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships.

Wang now moves on to round three of the Australian Open, where she will face the 12th seed and fellow compatriot, Qinwen Zheng, on Saturday.

Zheng secured her spot in the third round by beating British number 1, Katie Boulter, 6-3 6-3 on Thursday. After a tough first set, Boulter struck a break to lead 3-2 in the second set, but she was unable to capitalise due to poor serving and allowed Zheng to regain control and soon wrap up the match.

Second-round wins for Wang and Zheng rule out what would have been an all-British clash in the third round between Raducanu and Boulter.

Tuesday's other matches in the women's singles saw number 1 seed, Iga Swiatek, survive a scare against Danielle Collins. Swiatek recovered from 4-1 down in the third and deciding set by winning five consecutive games to win the match 6-4 3-6 6-4.

Number three seed, Elena Rybakina, did not have the same luck in her match against Anna Blinkova. After the two players split the first two sets 6-4, they engaged in the longest tiebreaker in Grand Slam singles history, with Blinkova winning the 31-minute final set tiebreaker 7-6 (22-20).

In Tuesday's men's singles matches, British number one, Cameron Norrie, had to recover from two sets down against Guolio Zeppieri, to win 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 6-4. The win for the 19th seed means he is Britain's only remaining player in the men's and women's singles at the tournament as Jack Draper was knocked out after losing 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-5 to Tommy Paul.

Number two seed, Carlos Alcaraz, battled to a 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-3) win over Lorenzo Sonego. Number three seed, Daniil Medvedev, had to pick himself up from two sets down to beat Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-1) 6-0.