At last, Emma Raducanu is ready to go steady

At last, Emma Raducanu is ready to go steady as she settles with new coach Sebastian Sachs and recovers from injury scare ahead of first round match at Australian Open

  • Emma Raducanu is preparing to begin her journey at the Australian Open
  • She faces Tamara Korpatsch in the early hours of Monday morning in Meblourne
  • The 20-year-old has spent some time at home and also recovered from injury
  • She is also hoping her relationship with new coach Sebastian Sachs can last

Emma Raducanu enjoyed catching up with old friends during her recent two months at home, but acknowledged that her life has been taking a very different direction.

While most of them were enjoying their first year at university, she was going through very public learnings on the main tour, which was sometimes difficult.

Even then it had some consolations. As her contemporaries went to Christmas parties she was a guest at the World Cup final in Qatar, hanging out with fellow invitee Novak Djokovic.

Emma Raducanu is preparing for the Australian Open after two months spent at home

She was also a guest at the World Cup final in Qatar last month following an invite

‘I had actually been in Abu Dhabi playing a match there and then it was like a 40 minute flight away the next day, so when I was asked I was like “sure”,’ she recounted.

‘When we were there Novak was the only other tennis person. It’s funny, because if I would see him at a tournament you’d probably be a bit more nervous or shy to say hello, but in that sort of environment it was much easier to talk to him. He’s a really cool guy and he took the time to speak with me.

‘Mbappe, what he was able to do that final was amazing, like he was he was really pushing and I think carrying the whole team as well. It was just so good to see how they kind of handled the stage and the moment.’

Raducanu said she and former men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic were the only tennis stars at the game

Either way, it is a very different existence to those of her contemporaries, who will be back in their halls of residence by the time she begins her Australian Open in the early hours of Monday morning.

‘It’s really nice for me to hang out and talk to them about old times when I’m with them. It’s really good to take my mind off things, but then equally we are living different lives at the moment.

‘I’m very strong in my head knowing what I have to do and if ever anything interferes with my training, I know, where my priorities are.’

The 20-year-old is looking to focus on her consistency in 2023 rather than off-court issues

She has been angered by reports she took part in a sponsor photo shoot just days before the Grand Slam

Raducanu’s over-arching goal this year is for the focus to be on her consistently playing and winning matches on court, rather than the backstage issues which followed her around last year, such as injuries, coaching changes and talk of her endorsements.

Already in 2023 it has been hard to shake off such distractions. She hurt her ankle at her first tournament in New Zealand and had to retire, although she is fit to play her first round in Melbourne, against Tamara Korpatsch of Germany.

Also, she and her camp were infuriated this week by reports that she was doing a sponsor photo shoot just days ahead of the Grand Slam.

Her appearance on the beach was, in fact, a compulsory PR duty for the Australian Open mandated for players. It is nonetheless indicative that the perception of her having a surfeit of commercial deals will be hard to shift.

Another reputation attached to her, that of someone constantly changing coaches, might be one that slowly fades. She pronounced herself extremely happy so far with German Sebastian Sachs, the 30 year-old who is the latest in a long line.

‘I really like Seb, I think that we’ve been doing some great work. He’s very objective and really experienced, actually. I just love the way that we’re working together and I really hope it lasts.’

Raducanu is currently being coached by German Sebastian Sachs, who she ‘really likes’

Raducanu has changed coaches on an number of occasions but has said she hopes her relationship with Sachs lasts

In response to comments made in October by former coach Dmitry Tursunov, who alluded to some ‘red flags’, she told the BBC: ‘He can say what he thinks.’

She is optimistic that a more steady set-up is now coalescing around her, contributing to her aims for the season, which includes acquiring more silverware to go along with the US Open trophy.

‘Success for me would probably be consistency over a long period of time, being healthy and playing through the year in good physical shape. Another goal is I also really want to win a title.’

Former coach Dmitry Tursunov has alluded to ‘red flags’ with Raducanu, which the Brit has dismissed

Staying fit will be everything. It was notable that Harriet Dart – the other GB woman in the draw, and someone who has shown admirable improvement – stated that managing her body was biggest single factor behind her making the top 100.

Dart faces Switzerland’s Jil Teichman, while Raducanu tackles the slightly unorthodox Korpatsch. Their rankings, in the seventies, are very close but the 20 year-old from Kent beat her last year on clay in Stuttgart.

If she wins there is the chance she will meet Coco Gauff in round two.

Raducanu will take on Tamara Korpatsch in round one in Melbourne on Monday morning

There was an upbeat feel to Raducanu’s conversation at the start of a year when she has to show that lessons from 2022 have been learned.

‘I was a bit shocked initially (after last week’s ankle scare) but then it didn’t take anything away from how I’m feeling about the season.

‘I feel really good actually and been swinging and playing surprisingly free and well since I resumed training last week. I just can’t wait to get out there on the court this year.’

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