Emma Raducanu has claimed she is “not stressed” about her lack of tennis after declaring herself fit for the Australian Open. The British No.1 feared she would miss the first Grand Slam of the year when she rolled her left ankle in Auckland and left the court in tears.
But an intensive rehab programme with her physio Will Herbert saw the former US Open champion return to the practice court last week ready to face world No.74 Tamara Korpatsch on Monday. The winner is likely to face American teenager Coco Gauff in the second round.
World No.75 Raducanu said: “In the match in Auckland, obviously, at the time, you’re a bit worried about it. When you just go over, you don’t really know what’s going on. But we’ve been working very hard. It’s been a team effort to get me to this place. We’ve definitely expedited the process, but I’m feeling really good and looking forward to getting out on the court. It’s just a huge, huge props to my team, really here and back home who have helped get me to this place. I started practising midweek, and we’ve been building it up pretty gradually. But I think that I’ve not really played much tennis ever in my career so I’m kind of used to it. And I’m not stressed about the lack of tennis that much.”
Raducanu caught Covid in the build-up to last year’s Australian Open – her first as a Grand Slam champion – and then suffered from blisters as she went out in the second round. She ended her 2022 season early because of a wrist injury and worked hard on her fitness with Andy Murray’s former fitness trainer Jez Green.
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“I would say I’m definitely in stronger shape,” she said. “I’m in a better condition physically. I did a lot of work and I’m very pleased with how it went physically. Was it psychologically difficult to deal with another injury? I think that I was feeling in a really good place mentally. In my tennis, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is going well’. When that happens, in the moment, you’re like, ‘oh, like what just happened’. So I think I was a bit shocked initially but then it didn’t take anything away from how I’m feeling about the season. And I feel really, really good actually.”
Raducanu also split with coach Dmitry Tursunov in October after the Russian claimed there were “red flags that just couldn’t be ignored”. She has since hired German Sebastian Sachs. “Yeah I really like Seb, I think that we’ve been doing some great work,” Raducanu said. “He’s very objective. He’s really experienced, actually. I just love the way that we’re working together and I really hope it lasts.”
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Another change since her last WTA match is that the Bromley-based star is now longer a teenager after turning 20 in November.
“There’s not much difference, really,” she laughed. “I think my parents still see me as a kid so that’s never going to change. But yeah, it’s like 20 you kind of think in your head, it’s old, but then you actually realise ‘I’ve got like 15 years of this, if I want it’, so I’ve still got a long time. It’s just important to put that in perspective and not think you’re running out of time at age 20.”