Has Emma Raducanu given a big hint that she will delay her comeback?
Emma Raducanu has vowed to get back on court in 2024, but the former US Open champion may not be back as quickly as her fans had hoped.
Raducanu underwent wrist and ankle surgery earlier this year and has not played a competitive match since April.
She has been posting regular updates on her progress to her army of followers on Instagram, with her work at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre stepping up in intensity as she prepares to return to action.
Raducanu is booked to make a comeback in an exhibition event next month, but that may not be a prelude to a quick return to the WTA Tour.
Amazon Prime analysts Sam Smith and Laura Robson – who were both top former players in Britain – were discussing Raducanu’s progress on her comeback during their commentary of the WTA Finals in Cancun.
Robson conducted an interview with Raducanu for Amazon recently and Smith seemed to suggest the 21-year-old was not planning to play at the Australian Open in January.
While Robson sidestepped that comment from Smith, there is a growing expectation that Raducanu will make a cautious return to action next year rather than launching a full comeback in the opening month of 2024.
In her interview with Amazon Prime, Raducanu gave some hints on her progress.
“The process is so slow and repetitive,” said Raucanu. “Sometimes it’s really hard to not get bored of it and just keep in mind the long-term end goal.
“It was difficult to train after the surgeries, so it was very sedentary in the beginning.
“Through the whole period, I’ve been doing a lot off court, reading a lot and mentally, watching some tennis.
“Mentally, I feel like I’m in a better place to compete now than I ever have been before since the US Open.
“It’s the best feeling because after just being in the gym or the rehab room, it’s really nice to go back on court and that’s when you really realize how much you missed it. It makes the off-court exercises a bit easier to do because you see the reward.
“I know it’s going to be difficult when you haven’t competed for a long time, almost a year. It’ll take me some tournaments to get back up to speed, but once I do, I think I’m in a better headspace to compete now.”
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 3, 2023
The positive sentiments from Raducanu suggest she is eager to return after a difficult first year on the senior WTA Tour following her remarkable US Open win.
In the opinion of former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, Raducanu needs to be cautious when she returns to the court as she told Tennis365 that realistic targets need to be set for the former world No 10.
“It’s one thing to do it one time, which is already very difficult, but it is another thing to do it year after year after year,” Bartoli told Tennis365.
“I was in the top ten for six consecutive years in a row, so people started to know my name. You go from one tournament to another and this is how people follow you.
“If one year you are top ten and the second year you are 100 and the third year you are out of the top 100, then people forget about you.
“It’s all about consistency and once you stop improving, that’s when you can go backwards. It’s all about improving some part of your game, your fitness and you need to look to work more.
“That can be a challenge when you have already achieved so much so young as it is difficult to get yourself going on the practice court.
“I’m not blaming anyone, but if you want to build your profile and to be known by the public, you have to repeat your performance.
“For Emma, it’s all about getting herself healthy again so she can do a full year. Since the US Open, she has had stop and go, stop and go. She plays one tournament and then she is on the sidelines for two months.
“If she gets her body right and has one full year, I feel she can go back to where she was when she was at the top of her game.”
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