Emma Raducanu’s BJK Cup absence ‘a bit of blow’, but Anne Keothavong backs teen to bounce back

Emma Raducanu practice

Emma Raducanu is looking “fit and strong” despite a wrist injury keeping her out of the Great Britain team for next week’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow.

Having called an early halt to her WTA Tour season after picking up the problem in October, Raducanu had hoped to be fit to lead Anne Keothavong’s team in Scotland.

But she admitted defeat last week, dealing a blow to the British team’s hopes in what was already a tough assignment.

Being off court has enabled Raducanu to focus on the physical work that was clearly lacking this season under the tutelage of Andy Murray’s former trainer Jez Green, and Keothavong has been impressed by the early results.

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“She’s looking pretty fit and strong and I think the work she’s put in over the last few weeks, you can see it,” said Keothavong.

“It’s good that she’s investing the time into it. I think she recognises it’s an area she needed to work on and improve and she’s doing it.

“Wrist injuries are never easy, but I think this one is under control. She’s got good people around her. I think she will be a stronger player come next year.”

And, despite being unable to take to the court in Glasgow, Raducanu could yet make the trip to support her team-mates.

“She did everything to be fit for Glasgow but it wasn’t going to happen,” said Keothavong. “It was evident when she went on court and tried hitting a few balls that she was going to need more time.

“It’s unfortunate and it was a bit of a blow because we know what she’s capable of, and also given her profile and her support for the team and the competition, it’s a loss not to have her on this team. But it is what it is.

“I know she’s still supportive in the background. She might even make it to Glasgow. She’s obviously trying to focus on getting fit and ready. If she’s not there supporting on the side then she will be from afar.”

Raducanu’s absence led to an unexpected change of tack for Keothavong on Wednesday as she added doubles pair Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls to her team.

The duo have had an excellent season, climbing towards the top 50 in the doubles rankings, but it will be a big leap in level and profile if they are selected.

Barnett and Nicholls join Harriet Dart, Katie Boulter and Heather Watson, who were previously named in the team, with Dart and Watson the other doubles option.

The captain said: “They’re an established team and what they’ve done over the past year has I think surprised a lot of people, me included. I think they’ve proven themselves, they’ve won a tour title this year. I guess I’m looking at potential match-ups and styles of play and what can disrupt the opposition.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. I guess what’s so great in British women’s tennis right now is there are options. It gave me no pleasure in telling the other girls that they’re not going to be part of this team.”

Britain will take on Kazakhstan, featuring Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, at the Emirates Arena on Tuesday and Paula Badosa’s Spain next Thursday.

Britain earned a wildcard as hosts having previously lost a qualifier against the Czech Republic, and Keothavong said: “With or without Emma, against Kazakhstan and Spain we are the underdogs.

“But I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to have an event like this in the UK. It’s an opportunity for the players to go out there and shine.”

Boulter is warming up for next week at the W100 Shrewsbury tournament, which is the biggest women’s indoor tour event held in the UK since 1995.

The 26-year-old defeated Bosnia’s Nefisa Berberovic 6-4, 6-4 to become the sixth British woman through to the second round. Jodie Burrage continued her good form with victory over fifth seed Elena-Gabriela Ruse and is unfortunate to miss out on selection for Glasgow.

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