Great Britain’s Katie Swan saw her superb Australian Open campaign come to a disappointing end as she lost to Slovakia’s Tereza Mihalikova in the final of the girls’ singles on Saturday.
Swan beat the top seed in the third round in Melbourne and saved three match points in an epic semi-final victory on Friday, where she struggled badly with cramp in a three-set match lasting more than two and a half hours.
But the 15-year-old from Bristol, who is now based in Kansas, perhaps paid the price for those heroics in the final, losing 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
After losing the first set in comprehensive fashion in the windy conditions, Swan threatened to make a comeback when she saved two break points in the opening game of the second set and then broke serve on her way to a 3-0 lead.
However, she then left the court for a medical time-out and after returning with strapping on her right thigh, proceeded to lose the next five games in a row.
Swan bravely saved two match points to force Mihalikova to serve for the match, but the unseeded 16-year-old held her nerve from 0-30 down to seal victory.
“I actually started to feel my groin at the middle of the first set and then it got worse and worse throughout,” Swan said. “I decided at 1-0 when I changed ends I was going to have the trainer on no matter what. So we went off and I think it’s a strain in my groin. It’s unfortunate but not much I can do about it.
“I think I didn’t have much time to recover from yesterday, so that’s part of it.”
Swan, who was set to watch one of her favourite players – Maria Sharapova – in Saturday’s women’s final, added: “It was tough the first set. I wasn’t really playing my best. I was pretty nervous so I wasn’t really on my game.
“Then the second set I told myself again I just had to keep fighting. If I didn’t have this [injury] and I could move fully, I think I would have had a better chance of taking that set. But I was still pleased with the way I fought and saved two match points.
“It’s been an amazing experience. Obviously my best tournament I’ve ever played. I’m really pleased with the way I’ve been playing this week. I hope that there are a lot more tournaments like this for me.”
Annabel Croft was the last British winner of the girls’ title in Melbourne in 1984, while Laura Robson reached the final in 2009 and 2010 after winning the junior title at Wimbledon in 2008.
Swan revealed Robson had sent her a good luck message on Twitter, adding: “It’s actually been crazy. There have been so many people that sent me messages, tweeting, Facebook, Instagram. Everybody has been so supportive from my home in England and Wichita, Kansas.
“I got a few new followers on Twitter, which I was really pleased with, and Laura Robson tweeted me, which made me feel real good.”