Sometimes it is too easy and lazy to look at negatives but following Emma Raducanu’s time at the BJKing Cup, Stuttgart and Madrid I think she should head to Rome in a week or so’s time with a lot to be happy about.
Prior to the event there has been talk about her coaching situation having split from her third coach since she made her Wimbledon debut last year and is now working with Iain Bates from the LTA who is Head of Women’s Tennis.
Do I think the change of coaches is something to be concerned about? No, not really. Emma recently said a year ago she was in an exam hall, now she is in the top 12 in the world of tennis, changes are fine as she finds her feet and this season is about finding her feet and adapting to the tour.
I saw criticism following her defeat to Anhelina Kalinina and I didn’t know why. She has been in great form winning against Sloane Stephens and Garbiñe Muguruza and played a good match to beat Emma in what turned out to be three good sets of tennis. There was criticism because she had a niggling injury and lost to a player ranked lower than her but it’s a load of nonsense.
The bigger picture speaks volumes. I’ll be honest, there is dissapointment in any defeat for any player but based on these first few weeks on clay I can only take away positives.
We have to remember, this is new and clay court tennis is new for Emma. She’s played a handful of matches on the surface and improved in my eyes from match to match and event to event.
In Stuttgart her run ended against Iga Swiatek, there is no shame losing to the world number and she gave the eventual Stuttgart champion a run for her money. Emma hit her forehand well and served superbly out-wide it was a good lesson as well from Swiatek who hits her forehand with ferocious power and Emma said she is adapting and getting used to the power and variety these women play with.
Madrid was a success as well. Emma trailed to Martincova but went onto dominate to win 7-6 6-0 winning 11 or 12 games having trailed 2-5 to the Czech who she got her debut win against on clay just a couple of weeks before at the BJ King Cup. The performance against Marta Kostyuk was exceptional, Emma dropped 3 games and her tennis was sublime. The speed and power of her ground strokes and the introduction of the drop shot was a nice addition to the week in Madrid.
The final appearance in Madrid was against Kalinina, Emma struggled with a back injury but after a medical time out she made a competitive fight of it, it was the finest of margins for the Brit as the stats show…
There wasn’t much in it, 80 points played on serve each and 80 points won each. It was the finest of margins, disappointment in defeat but positives from another week learning on the tour.
Emma spoke about carrying a ‘niggling’ injury all week but as well as her personally developing to the tour and the calendar her body is too, injuries in any sport are always a slight concern but we need to remember, this is new.
Next up? Rome and Roland Garros, more new experiences and opportunities ahead for Emma.