Elena Baltacha column

By Elena BaltachaBritish number one

It feels a bit strange to be leaving the US Open and heading for home after what has been a pretty successful summer in America.

Obviously I was disappointed to lose to Svetlana Kuznetsova and it was frustrating not to have more chances against her, but that's what happens when you play against a Grand Slam champion.

Sveta won the US Open in 2004 and has a French Open title as well, and if I'm honest I probably needed her to play a little below her best. That didn't happen and I just couldn't find a way through.

Matches against world-class players like her teach you a lot about your game and where you need to improve.

I have developed a lot and I know I am close to taking that next step and beating the better players more often, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating to lose.

The margins are really small and it's a case of working to get rid of those one or two little weaknesses that the better players know how to exploit.

After six weeks on the road in the United States, I will take a few days off when I get home and head up to Glasgow to see my family and my baby nephew Alex, who is the apple of my eye. I am very soppy about him and every day my brother sends me a new picture of him on my phone.

I love playing tennis but missing out on time with your friends and family is definitely the biggest sacrifice you make.

As soon as I land in Glasgow I feel completely relaxed and I go there when I need a complete mental and physical break.

It will also be great to be up there to soak up the atmosphere if Andy Murray does really well in New York because everyone loves him so much up there.

Now that the final Grand Slam of the year is over for me it's a chance to look back and overall I'm pleased with how this year has gone.

I'm proud to say that I got into all four Grand Slams on my ranking without needing to qualify or ask for a wildcard and I have won at least one round at the last five major tournaments I have played. The last British woman to do that was Jo Durie in 1983.

Being consistent like that is one of the hardest things to do in tennis, particularly with a rolling ranking system that means you have to defend any points you won the previous year.

I had the best season of my career in 2010 and that meant that throughout this year I have been under pressure to get similar results to keep my ranking up.

After this tournament I will be ranked just outside the top 50, which is the same as last year, and I take a lot of satisfaction from that, even though I know that I can get up higher.

After a week's rest I will train hard for my last remaining tournaments of the year, which will be indoor events in Europe, starting with the Aegon Tour event at Shrewsbury at the end of the month.

My US Open might be over but I'm determined to finish the year strongly to give myself the right platform for 2012.