Former British No 1 leaps to Emma Raducanu’s defence amid schedule debate

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu was beaten at the Qatar Open
Emma Raducanu was beaten at the Qatar Open

Emma Raducanu crashed out in the first round of the Qatar Open and admitted after the match that she may need to revise her schedule as she gets used to life on the WTA Tour once again after a lengthy spell out with injuries.

After getting a wildcard into the WTA 1000 tournament in Doha, world No 30 Anhelina Kalinina had too much for Raducanu as she crushed her in an embarrassingly one-sided first set.

To her credit, Raducanu fought back and saved two match points as Kalinina served for the match at 6-5.

She then had a set point of her own in the tie-break, but failed to convert and admitted after the match that she may now revise her scheduling and opt out of playing in next week’s WTA 1000 event in Dubai.

“I think I was struggling with everything today – forehand, backhand. It was one of those days,” said Raducanu.

“I think it was hard because she had a really good backhand. Even if you went line, you had to make sure it was a really good shot because otherwise, she’d take you off cross-court.

“I just struggled with the timing of the ball to be honest. I think it’s going to come with more time practising as well as matches.”

Raducanu then suggested she should tweak her immediate plans after this latest defeat as she added: “I think that I need to kind of schedule my tournaments a bit better as well as just trying to get some more matches under my belt,” she added.

“I think that I’m just going to go home and practice and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu considering huge schedule change after big defeat in Qatar

After the match, Raduacanu suggested she would return home to Britain for more practice rather than playing in Dubai, which will restart the debate over the tournaments she is playing in.

As a former Grand Slam champion, Raducanu will get wildcards into big tournaments that will allow her to climb the rankings, but she will come up against the best players in the game when she enters the WTA 1000-level tournaments.

Many have suggested the world No 262 should play lower-ranking events to get matches under her belt, yet former British No 1 Laura Robson has a different view.

Speaking exclusively to Tennis365 at the launch of the Sky Sports Tennis channel, Robson told us that she would follow the same route as Raducanu if she was in her shoes.

Laura Robson is part of the new Sky Sports Tennis channel
Laura Robson is part of the new Sky Sports Tennis channel

“It’s not really going for the jackpot playing these events,” insisted Robson.

“She played very well in some of the matches she had this year and she clearly feels her level is good enough to challenge at these tournaments, so why not go for them?

“If it doesn’t go well, then you can go back to the drawing board and maybe enter a few lower tournaments.

“If the opportunities are there to pick up very big points without too many match wins without winning too many matches, you have to take them.

“The way the points work, you could win two WTA 250 tournaments or have a run at a WTA 1000 event and you basically get the same number of points for your ranking. If I were here, I’d be playing the same tournaments.”

The defeat in Doha appears to have focused Raducanu’s mind over what comes next, yet Robson is convinced there are good times ahead for the British star.

“She is competing really well and ever in the matches she has lost, she has been right in them,” added Robson.

“The fact that she has been playing more aggressively and getting closer to the baseline is great to see. She is playing a brand of tennis close to what we saw when she won the US Open and she just needs time on court and consistency to get her to that level.

“Emma has used this re-start as an opportunity to just start again and it has been really good to see.”

Laura Robson speaks exclusively to Tennis365 about Emma Raducanu at the launch of the new Sky Sports Tennis channel.