Emma Raducanu faces big French Open decision after pulling out of tournament

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu impressive on clay in Stuttgart
Emma Raducanu has enjoyed some good wins on clay

Emma Raducanu created some confusion when she entered a WTA 500 tournament in Strasbourg on the same week as she is due to play in qualifying for the French Open, but she has made a move to clear up that clash.

Tournament officials in Strasbourg have confirmed that Raducanu is no longer on their entry list for a tournament that gets underway next week.

This move by the 2021 US Open champion would appear to pave the way for her participation in French Open qualifying, but there are still some doubts over whether the 21-year-old will play in the qualifying competition at Roland Garros.

This comes after the wild cards for the Paris Grand Slam were confirmed on Tuesday, with Raducanu’s name not included on the list, as expected.

What comes next will be intriguing, with Raducanu lying low after her hugely disappointing performance in the Madrid Open last month.

Raducanu spoke on numerous occasions about the fatigue she felt after playing in the Billie Jean King Cup for Great Britain and backing it up with tournaments in Stuttgart and Madrid, with these comments suggesting an extended break was required.

“I would say the last few weeks have been a lot,” she said after losing against Argentinian qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle in the first round of the Madrid Open.

“I think from the performance today it was very clear that mentally and emotionally I was exhausted.

“I was trying to push through and I was just unable to push through today. I guess the sport is just pretty brutal.”

Raducanu needed five players to pull out of the French Open due to injury to secure a place in the main draw, with the protected ranking she is using due to her injury problems last night not high enough to get her into the main draw in Paris.

She was in a similar position at the Australian Open in January and was facing the prospect of playing qualifying for that tournament, but enough players pulled out to ensure she avoided that prospect.

Raducanu’s entry into the Strasbourg event next week suggested she was hoping for a similar scenario with the second Grand Slam of 2024, but it appears she will not be so fortunate this time.

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu closing in on return to top 20 of alternative tennis rankings

Of course, Raducanu should have fond memories of Grand Slam qualifying, as the last time she followed that route was at the US Open three years ago, when she famously went on to lift the title.

Now Raducanu and her management team need to assess whether playing in qualifying and potentially losing against a tricky opponent on a surface she has limited experience on would be beneficial to her career at this stage of her comeback from injury.

Her high-profile sponsors might also be less than impressed by the prospect of one of their highest-paid ambassadors playing in qualifying competitions, but that should not be a consideration when Raducanu decides what to do next.

She could opt to skip the rest of the clay court season and prepare to play on grass courts in England for the first time in two years, with wild cards into events in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne certain to be available to Raducanu.

A Wimbledon wild card will also be coming her way, with British tennis chiefs certain to give a player who is one of their highest-profile homegrown stars a pass into the main draw at the All England Club.

If Raducanu performed well on grass courts this summer, the issues she is currently facing to get into tournaments could be erased, with a big rise up the rankings possible for a player who has no points to defend for the rest of this year.

In the opinion of respected tennis broadcaster Marcus Buckland, Raducanu has a chance to get back to the top of the game and yet he admits there is plenty of uncertainty around the player currently ranked at No 212 in the WTA Rankings.

“It feels like she is moving in the right direction again, but I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Buckland told Tennis365.

“She put together a string of great performances and then we saw a frustrating defeat at the Madrid Open and we haven’t seen her since.

“It will be really interesting to see how she deals with the spotlight that will inevitably fall on her when the grass court season comes around in Britain.

“I feel she is dealing with it well now and we all have to remember what a brutal sport tennis is.

“You could be playing really well, get a tough draw against a top ten player and you can lose.

“I just hope that she is allowed to continue to develop without too much negative attention directed towards her.

“The way some of the media work now, there is sometimes a batter angle to go with the negative rather than the positive and Raducanu has experienced that over the last couple of years.

“When she is on song, she is a terrific player. I love watching her play, but we have seen so many examples in the women’s game of players coming through, winning a Grand Slam and then struggling to back it up.

“You feel when they make that breakthrough that they are ready to challenge time and again, but they often go away and come back at a later date to challenge again.

“I feel that with a bit of luck with injuries, Raducanu has got the game to come back and get in the mix again. She’s still very young, so I’m not panicking for her.”

The pressure Buckland mentions during the grass court season is inevitable as despite her lack of success on court over the last couple of years, Raducanu remains one of the most talked about British athletes and there will be a big spotlight shone on her as we edge towards Wimbledon.

Prior to that, Raducanu has to decide whether to try and get into the main draw at the French Open, with the absence of footage of her practising on clay on her social media accounts in recent days fuelling the suspicion that she may not return until the grass court season gets underway