Emma Raducanu still figuring out her perfect game, but plenty of positives and no more getting pushed around

Shahida Jacobs
Emma Raducanu in action

Emma Raducanu exited the Western & Southern Open in the third round, but her run at the WTA 1000 will give her a much-needed confidence boost ahead of her US Open title defence.

There were significant wins over Grand Slam winners and former world No 1s Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, she played three matches in three days and she has also decided to do away with defensive tennis by playing with more freedom.

Radcuanu came into the Cincinnati event on the back of a poor first-round display at the Canadian Open as she went down against Camila Giorgio and she must have feared for the worst when she was handed a tough draw with Williams first up.

Yet it was “US Open Emma” who turned up in Mason, Ohio, as demolished the soon-to-be-retired tennis great 6-4, 6-0 on Tuesday and followed it up with a 6-0, 6-2 crushing of Azarenka a day later.

Three in a row eludes Raducanu yet again

Her run was ended by seventh seed Jessica Pegula on Thursday as she went down 7-5, 6-4 and the defeat means she is yet to win three matches in a row in 14 tournaments on the 2022 WTA Tour season.

In fact she has only done it twice in her young career with the first coming on her Grand Slam main draw debut when she reached the Wimbledon fourth round and the second when she won 10 matches in a row en route to winning the US Open after coming through qualifying.

But make no mistake, the week in Cincinnati was one of her best weeks so far on the Tour.

“To play back-to-back days between the first and second, it was pretty quick turnover. I think that it’s difficult as well to stay mentally focused, to keep mentally just going back out there and backing the performances up,” she said after her defeat.

“I think that’s something, to be honest, I don’t think I have experienced much of, because I haven’t had many consistent weeks of a lot of matches in a row. It was great to get three matches this week, and in D.C., as well.”

Swinging from the hip

One change to her game this week has been her attacking style, an approach that worked very well when she won the US Open.

The 19-year-old has found herself running around court a lot in recent months, but swinging freely from the hip paid off in Cincinnati.

“I kind of just got tired of pushing the ball around and having people hit the ball and they’d run me around. I was just, like, ‘Look, I have tried that for pretty much a year,'” Raducanu said.

“If I’m going to lose, I’m probably going to lose anyway pushing the ball around at this level. It just doesn’t work. I’m just going to do it and give this tournament a swing. And it worked.

“I think that it is definitely relieving because I feel like I’m swinging with the same sort of freedom as I probably had, more similar to last year. So it feels really good. I think that I can really take it as a positive week, and I actually feel like I’m heading in a good direction again.”

Emma Raducanu in action

Figuring out her own game

It is easy to forget that this is the 19-year-old’s first full season on the WTA Tour and she still has a lot to learn about her own game and it will be all about fitting the different pieces together.

“I think I do each of the aspects pretty well, separated. But I just need to put them together. For example, some weeks I have served really, really well,” she told WTA Insider.

“I think over the clay in the beginning I served really well. Then like some weeks, I don’t know, it would just disappear and then I will become more of a defensive player. Then I will become more of an attacking player.

“So I think I am still trying to find the balance and just trying to package my game together more so. But like I said, every match at this level I figure out what works, what doesn’t work, how I should be hitting the ball. I feel more confident in what I’m doing now.”