Former top ten player backs Emma Raducanu to defy her critics

Delight for Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu looks set to play at the Australian Open after overcoming an ankle injury and she has been backed to defy her critics after a challenging first full year on the WTA Tour.

Raduanu shot to international fame after her remarkable win at the US Open, winning 10 matches and coming through qualifying to create one of the greatest stories in tennis history.

Backing that up with a successful first year on the WTA Tour was always likely to be a challenge, with inflated expectations and injuries adding to the challenges faced by the young Brit.

Now she is preparing to kick-start her 2023 campaign, after overcoming an ankle injury sustained in her first tournament of the year in Adelaide.

Speaking exclusively to Tennis365 , former top ten player Barbara Schett suggested Raducanu is ready to bounce back into tournament contention, so long as she finds a balance on and off the court.

“With Emma it is always about the fitness,” Schett told Tennis365 ahead of the Australian Open, which is live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.

“Since she won the US Open, there have been a lot of injuries and I’m not sure how well she has prepared in this off-season, but Emma will come back. She is too good of a tennis player not to be in the top ten.

“It is not that long ago that she won the US Open from nowhere. She wanted to win a round in that tournament to buy herself a new set of ear pods.

“Suddenly she wins a Grand Slam title and she has all these sponsors, all this attention.

“I think people are patient with her, they have not crushed her yet. This is good to see.”

Raducanu’s revolving door of coaching talent had been highlighted as a flaw in her approach since the 2021 US Open win, with Schett joining the chorus suggesting a permanent appointment needs to be made.

“I just hope she can find a coach one day,” added Schett.

“She has had so many coaches and she is trying to take all the experience and information from each of them and put it together.

“But in tennis, it is important to have someone with you who you can trust and who will work on your game every day.

“That will come at some point and I have no doubt that she will be up there again one day.”

Raducanu declared herself fit and ready to go at the Australian Open after a “team effort” to help her recover from an ankle injury.

The British number one’s participation in the first grand slam of the year was thrown into doubt last week when she rolled her left ankle during her second-round match at the ASB Classic in Auckland and pulled out in tears.

Raducanu has built up her time on the practice court during the week at Melbourne Park and has appeared to be moving well in her last few sessions.

She said: “In the match, obviously, at the time, you’re a bit worried about it. When you just go over, you don’t really know what’s going on.

“But we’ve been working very hard. It’s been a team effort to get me to this place.

“We’ve definitely expedited the process but I’m feeling really good and looking forward to getting out on the court. It’s just a huge, huge props to my team, really here and back home, who have helped get me to this place.”

Raducanu has physio Will Herbert, a central member of her team when she won the US Open, with her again and the pair have been putting in the hours off court to get the 20-year-old as ready as she can be for Monday’s clash with German Tamara Korpatsch.

The schedule was not kind, with the match first up on the opening day, although she could have had a much tougher draw than 27-year-old Korpatsch, who is ranked one place ahead of world number 75 Raducanu.

Raducanu experienced a string of injuries last year and insisted she is not too worried about her less-than-perfect preparation.

“I started practising midweek and we’ve been building it up pretty gradually,” she said.

“But I think that I’ve not really played much tennis ever in my career so I’m kind of used to it. And I’m not stressed about lack of tennis that much.”

The injury was an unfortunate blow after Raducanu had spent an extended off-season working hard on her physical conditioning with Andy Murray’s former trainer Jez Green.

The Australian Open is live on Eurosport and discovery+ starting on Monday.