Six points to love? Half a dozen things Emma Raducanu can do to win the game of life

Tennis News
Emma Raducanu celebrates

Emma Raducanu has officially transitioned from unknown teen tennis face to the game of life. Every action, on and off the court, is there to be shot at. She has her head screwed on and probably doesn’t need our advice. Here it is anyway…

1) Keep up the charm offensive

It seems almost basic in the face of so much scrutiny, but one of the most disarming weapons Emma Raducanu possesses is her way of smiling through the crises. Her “management” of the Wimbledon 2021 retirement was handled with a deft touch via an upbeat interview with Sue Barker. She has credit in the bank in the form of a Grand Slam.

Boris Becker has said her “honeymoon phase is over”. However, Chris Evert is pretty much on the button with how the teenager has handled things so far: “I just think with the tabloids in England it’s brutal. I mean basically, they camp out at your doorstep if you’re a superstar and that’s not good. I think Emma is handling everything beautifully.”

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2) Improve physicality

Losing toenails is never a pleasant experience but that’s exactly what happened as Raducanu prepared for her first competitive match on clay in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers. It had been four years since the 19-year-old has competed on the surface in the French Open junior qualifiers. It showed.

“It does take time for a player to get used to life on the tour and become more robust, and she certainly needs to become more robust. I don’t think that’s any secret and she’s working on it,” said captain Anne Keothavong. The 6-1, 6-1 loss to 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova was exacerbated by foot blisters hampering her movement.

Emma Raducanu urged to become more ‘robust’ after Britain suffer BJK Cup defeat

At the Australian Open, it was a hand blister that led to a tight defeat by Danka Kovinić. Maybe Raducanu could take on Jurgen Klopp’s advice to one of his players about “what is serious pain or what is only pain”. Disclaimer: Klopp thinks she is “the talent of the century”.

3) Moving on from the innocence of the outsider

When a coach as prominent as Patrick Mouratoglou speaks on what’s required moving forward, then one tends to listen. Raducanu almost needs to block out the praise just as she blocks out the negativity that has followed her difficult six months post-September.

Mouratoglou mused: “I think she can win more Grand Slams but I think it’s very early to win some others for her because she played without any pressure and suddenly all the pressure came on her so she’s not the same player as she was months before the US Open.”

Raducanu was never really threatened at Flushing Meadows. She was an unknown entity. Now, opponents and coaches will be all over the stats to see where they can reduce the Brit’s effectiveness. Some might argue that it’s already working. Time will tell if she can implement different plans to change it up.

4) Outside interests

It was bound to happen, British sensation wins major. British sensation is suddenly invited to all sorts of events and sponsorships. She is photographed on red carpets rather than carpet courts. The result? She’s not spending enough time on the sport. Even Eddie Jones, England’s rugby coach, had something unsubtle to say.

Rather than shout: “I’ve been on the practice court for six hours,” Raducanu would be well advised to just let these things wash over her. If you are winning, then there’s little comeback. Self-justification isn’t a battle to be won with the media.

5) Win consecutive matches

The expectation of the No 13 ranked player on the planet is to have a decent run in a tournament. Raducanu has failed to put together a series of wins that would at least point to empirical progress.

As Boris Becker says: “You can lose, but if you’re always eliminated in the first or second round after winning the US Open, you ask yourself. How is that possible now? Emma won’t win every tournament, but you can always expect semi-finals plus or minus, but she’s miles away from that at the moment.”

She has now lost nine of the 15 matches she has played since winning the 2021 US Open. Having not won consecutive matches since October last year, the Brit is desperately in need of a good run for her own belief.

6) Deal with Wimbledon

The focus at SW19 in just over two months will be hotter than the Easter weekend. Her unofficial mentor, Tim Henman, will no doubt have given some sage advice on how to cope with the constant home pressure that quite probably contributed to her premature departure last year.

Ultimately, the dizzying expectations will be cranked up to full power on Centre Court. Raducanu will need to find a way to the sort of freedom that got her there in the first place, It’s not losing that will be a problem. It’s whether she can be uninhibited and use the crowd to her advantage. Dealing with a fortnight of bedlam – if it comes to that – would be something that might keep her awake at night…