‘Not a disappointment’ – Mats Wilander praises Emma Raducanu despite Australian Open exit
Mats Wilander says Emma Raducanu can be proud of her Australian Open performance and feels the young Brit “is on her way” to success.
After shocking the world when she became the first and only qualifier to win a Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, Raducanu struggled for form towards the end of 2021, exiting multiple tournaments in the early stages.
The US Open champion’s poor form seemingly continued into 2022 after a heavy defeat to Elena Rybakina at the Sydney Tennis Classic.
She was then handed a difficult draw at the Australian Open when she drew 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens.
However, Raducanu overcame Stephens in convincing fashion, winning the first set 6-0 in just 17 minutes and took the match 6-0, 2-6, 6-1.
She then battled through injury but was narrowly defeated by world number 98 Danka Kovinic.
After the loss Raducanu revealed she had been suffering blistering before the Australian Open began, with some on her team advising her not to compete at the first Slam of the season.
Raducanu played regardless and her injury only worsened the more she played.
Should Raducanu have beaten Kovinic, she would have faced her idol Simona Halep in the third round, but alas it was not to be and the duo are yet to meet competitively.
Despite exiting the ‘Happy Slam’ in the second round, seven-time Slam champion Mats Wilander praised her performances and believes her loss is nothing to be disappointed about.
Speaking on the Eurosport Cube, Wilander said: “Emma Raducanu [showed] unbelievable fight.
“She had a huge blister on her right hand and at some points couldn’t really hit a forehand at all.
“It’s not a disappointment to me. It needs to not be for Raducanu or the British media, and for her sponsors.
“This was a great effort against a really good player in [Danka] Kovinic. I take my hat off. She couldn’t even shake hands!”
Raducanu went to high five Kovinic with her left hand at the net following the loss, still protecting her blistered right.
Wilander reviewed Raducanu’s Slam results to date, keeping in mind she has still only played three events.
“In Wimbledon she reached the fourth round, at the US Open she won, and in the Australian Open she won a great first round against a former Grand Slam champion in Sloane Stephens.
“Then she played a fantastic match tonight. She is on her way. She won [a] Grand Slam, that’s over.
“Now we start being a professional tennis player. That is where she is at.”
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