Can Emma Raducanu turn the clock back on her return? | Tennis News

September 11, 2021. The world was at Emma Raducanu’s feet. She had done something out of the ordinary. She had beaten Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez in the US Open final to become the first qualifier to win a grand slam in the Open era. In the process, she had also ended Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s grand slam singles champion. At the time she was just 18 years old. She appealed to the world like few had done before.

Britain’s Emma Raducanu(AP)

Overnight she became the toast of the town. Teenage boys were particularly smitten by her. She brought beauty as well as talent to the table. It appeared the game had found its new star that was going to shine bright in the tennis firmament for a very long time.

Amazon Sale season is here! Splurge and save now! Click here

Alas, it hasn’t turned out that way – so far. Bad form combined with a series of injuries has resulted in Raducanu losing steam. Fans have also questioned her attitude as she has disposed of one coach after another. Since Wimbledon 2021, she has done away with five coaches which is an alarmingly large number. Some fans have even gone on to suggest that her win at Flushing Meadows is nothing but a fluke.

Besides she hasn’t gone beyond the second round at a grand slam since the 2021 US Open. Her world has come crashing down just like that. It’s no surprise that she has experienced mental health issues too. At one point, she said: “…And sometimes I think to myself ‘I wish I’d never won the US Open, I wish that didn’t happen’.”

In 2023, she played just 10 matches on the WTA Tour and won five of them before surgeries on her wrists and ankle sidelined her for almost nine months. She returned to action earlier this month at the Auckland Classic where she had a promising outing. She beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse in a three-setter before Elina Svitolina ended her campaign but Raducanu, to her credit, didn’t go down without a fight in another three-setter.

The 21-year-old Briton is now ready for the Australian Open that kicks off on Sunday. Her fans, not as many as before, are hopeful that she will turn the clock back and give them a reason to rejoice. Even a decent performance like reaching the quarterfinals should suffice. Expecting her to win a tournament of this magnitude after so many months of convalescing would be expecting too much.

She was supposed to play two exhibition events in Melbourne this week but she pulled out of them as a precautionary measure. But now she is all set to take on Shelby Rogers, whom she had incidentally dismissed 6-2 6-1 in her pre-quarterfinal match in the 2021 US Open. Raducanu, who is using an injury-protected ranking of 103rd in the world following withdrawals of quite a few higher-ranked players, is optimistic as well as cautious, which is understandable.

“For a few days after the matches I was sore but I’ve bounced back from that and I’m feeling good now. I did a lot of good work in the off-season. But regardless of how good I may feel on the court on a particular day or in practice, getting that level of consistency is going to require more time,” says Raducanu.

Since her Auckland outing, she has done good practice seasons at Melbourne Park. British number two Jodie Burrage has kept Raducanu company over there and if she is to be believed, the 2021 US Open winner is looking good ahead of the tournament. “She was absolutely creaming the ball. She was proper going for it. It was a good practice. It’s nice to see her back on the court, back playing some really good stuff as well. It will be really interesting to see what she does this week,” says Burrage.

Raducanu’s return to tennis is good news but all of us will do well not to set too high expectations of her. Remember, what happened to Rafael Nadal a few days back. Something similar can happen to her. Returning to the game after such a long time can’t be easy. She will have to take it step by step. For now, her fans will be happy if she finishes the tournament with only a few wins but without any more injury alarms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *