Emma Raducanu on last-minute decision to play in Slovenia, learning on the job, rising up rankings again

Emma Raducanu in action

Emma Raducanu admits that playing at the Slovenia Open was not originally part of her plan, but she is hopeful it will help her raise up the rankings again and lay a good foundation for the 2023 season.

The teenager’s US Open title defence came to a disappointing end in the first round at Flushing Meadows a fortnight ago as she lost against French veteran Alize Cornet on the opening Monday.

A few days later she accepted a wildcard entry for the WTA 250 event – which also features Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and third in-form Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia – and she flew straight to Portoroz to adapt to conditions in the European city.

“I didn’t really plan to play this week. On the other hand I don’t have too many points to defend for the remainder of the season so I am trying to add more matches, there haven’t been many of them lately,” the British player told teniskisvet.si .

“This will hopefully help me to lay a good physical foundation for next year.”

She added: “In tennis, the differences are very small. It will be a big challenge to climb up the rankings again. It will be difficult in this tournament as many of the players here are high in the rankings.”

The 19-year-old’s early exit in New York meant she dropped to No 83 in the WTA Rankings, but she has already moved up a few places after she won her opening clash against Dayana Yastremska on Monday.

Raducanu has struggled with injury and form since winning the 2021 US Open as she is yet to win three matches in a row since her New York success.

But she knows it is all part of the learning process.

“It’s good to experience every tournament and compete with competitors I haven’t played before,” the British No 1 said.

“It’s been a year full of challenges, but it was good for me anyway, because I had to adapt. I kind of skipped that, because it’s usually the case that you first play on tour for one season and then maybe a bigger result comes.

“It’s a good experience for me. I obviously had a target on my back during this period and some competitors raised their game against me, but this will only make me stronger.”

She continued: “All these obligations at tournaments are new to me, because after a defeat, when you’re angry, you can’t think about it for a long time, because press conferences follow.

“Off the court, however, I feel like all the things I do are scrutinised or even exaggerated. People like to talk.”

Raducanu is currently working with Dmitry Tursunov on a trial basis, but there have been major improvements since she teamed up with the Russian as she defeated former world No 1s Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the Cincinnati Masters.

Although she has not been consistent, she appears to be on the up.

“I honestly feel that I am a better player in many ways now than I was when I won the US Open,” she said.

“I draw confidence from that. Part of what I can partially attribute my victory to last year is that I was completely new, no one knew me.

“I didn’t do anything special in certain matches, but this season everyone wants to beat me and as a result they raise their level. I am confident that with daily hard work I will be able to climb the rankings again.”

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu confirms another event: ‘I’m really excited and happy to say that I’m coming back’