Emma Raducanu has ‘grown up mentally’ and is ready to dominate, says former British number one
Former British number one Joe Durie says she has no doubt that Emma Raducanu is firmly on her way back to the top of women’s tennis.
Raducanu won the US Open in 2021, becoming the first ever player to win a major as a qualifier – and she did it without dropping a single set too.
She has fallen victim to injury and inconsistency since, though, and the Brit is only just back on court after operations on both wrists and an ankle.
That return went well with her beating Shelby Rodgers in the first round of the Australian Open, and Durie is confident there is a lot more still to come.
“I had a feeling Emma Raducanu would be pretty comfortable against Shelby Rogers, Durie told MegaDice.com.
“She had already beaten her at the US Open a couple of years ago. What I saw of Emma a couple of weeks ago especially against Svitolina is that she sounds different. She’s looking more freer, like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders.
“She’s confronted her injuries, getting them dealt with and also growing up mentally. I was out for nine months when I was 19 after a really big back operation; almost the same time frame as Emma. It makes you think about what you are missing.
“She has come back hungrier, she wants to be on court, she’s enjoying being on court. There is no better than feeling that.
“She will only get better for this. Two weeks ago when she had those two tough matches I was not surprised when her body was a bit stiff and sore. However much you practice it is just not the same. When you have got that tension in a match, that anxiety, your muscles tense up and you are much stiffer.
“I thought she was moving really well, the best I have seen her for a long time. I thought she was just really calm even on the few occasions when Rogers got slightly closer to her, she just looked calm. It was tricky with the wind which was hard to handle.
“She looked different, did not panic, didn’t seem to be that much tension through her shoulders. Everything was flowing much better.”
Emma Raducanu has put her demons ‘behind her’
Emma Raducanu would probably be the first to admit that her career hasn’t panned out the way she would have wanted after winning the US Open.
That achievement instantly catapulted her to into a global spotlight for which she was completely unprepared, as well as opening up new commercial opportunities.
Understandably, it all seemed to have got a bit much for her and her tennis suffered, but Durie believes those days are now behind her.
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— Eurosport (@eurosport) January 16, 2024
“We are lucky to have her,” she said. “People had such joy when she won the US Open and the way she did it. It looked fun and it was amazing tennis.
“Everybody knows her face wherever she goes around the world. To have people following you at every step, cameras everywhere, it is a lot to cope with on top of trying to perform as a tennis player.
“The confidence to come out and say the things she has at her level. She is just too good not to get back to the top if she puts the consistent work in is a real statement of her state of mind.
“A lot of players are loath to put themselves on the line. But she knows her standards and she has been practicing to those standards for the past couple of months. She knows what she is capable of. And she is still so young and she has such a bright future ahead of her.
“I think a lot of it is behind her. I am sure there will be a few more ups and downs. She did say a successful year for her would be one where she is healthy and could play.
“That is what she needs to pinpoint, to be wise about her tournaments, get a good amount of matches, not judge it too harshly, win or lose. Just get that experience.
“She will work her way up the rankings pretty quickly and find herself back in the mix and then who knows? Having the confidence her body won’t give out makes a huge difference.
“It was mind boggling the amount of people who wanted a piece of her. You have got to have good people around you to deflect and defend you against some of this; picking the right things for you to do at the right times so you are not worrying in the back of your mind whether you should be going to hit for a couple of hours or going to do a commercial.
“I think she has sorted that out now and is used to it and will take that in her stride.”
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