Mats Wilander has said that Emma Raducanu showed "unbelievable fight" despite exiting the Australian Open in the second round.
Raducanu was beaten in a three-set encounter by Danka Kovinic, but fought through a painful blister on her right hand.
The US Open champion took several medical breaks during the match to re-apply strapping, and struggled to hit power forehands and serve convincingly due to the bothersome injury.
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While a first-week exit will be regarded as a disappointment for the teenager after a stunning maiden Grand Slam triumph in New York in September, Wilander believes that this is a natural progression of Raducanu's young career.
Eurosport expert Wilander, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, stated that the 19-year-old deserves great credit for her performance.
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"Emma Raducanu [showed] unbelievable fight," Wilander said in the Eurosport Cube. "She had a huge blister on her right hand and at some points couldn't really hit a forehand at all.
"It's not a disappointment to me. It needs to not be for Emma Raducanu or the British media, and for her sponsors. This was a great effort against a really good player in Kovinic. I take my hat off. She couldn't even shake hands!
"In Wimbledon she reached the fourth round, at the US Open she won, and in the Australian Open she won a great first round against a former Grand Slam champion in Sloane Stephens. Then she played a fantastic match tonight.
"She is on her way. She won the Grand Slam - that's over. Now we start being a professional tennis player. That is where she is at."
Raducanu had overcome Stephens in a competitive first round encounter on Tuesday, and had seemed set to set up an encounter with Simona Halep, a childhood hero.
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However Halep, who beat Beatriz Hadda Maia later on the fourth day of action in Melbourne, will instead face Grand Slam third-round debutante Kovinic.
The Montenegrin showed impressive focus to capitalise on her opponent's ailment and knock out Raducanu.
Barbara Schett, the former world No.7 and part of Eurosport's team on the ground in Australia, said that while she had never suffered blistering of the hand like Raducanu, she understood why the British player's game had been so troubled by the issue.
"I never got blisters on my hands but I did on my foot, right underneath my toe," Schett explained.
"At one point I was really struggling. Little blisters can be so nasty and can really limit you on the court - I can't imagine how bad it would be to have it on your right hand."
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