WTA

Emma Raducanu can be among the best in the world if she stays fit – Jack Draper

By Sports Desk December 14, 2023

Jack Draper has no doubt Emma Raducanu will get back to the top of the game.

The former US Open champion is preparing to make her comeback after eight months on the sidelines following operations on both wrists and one ankle.

Raducanu, now ranked down at 298, has been training ahead of her first tournament back in Auckland in a couple of weeks’ time but still does not have a coach or a settled team around her.

Draper knows Raducanu well having grown up with her in juniors as the standout British hopes, and he said: “Obviously, when she’s fit, she’s an incredible player.

“She’s been struggling with injuries for a long time. I think people forget that before the US Open she was still in school. She didn’t have a lot of training. Obviously, she had that huge run and achieved what people dream of achieving in their whole career.

“And then I think to expect so much of her after that is a bit of a mistake because she hasn’t maybe got a lot of that physical foundation and the experience of playing on the tour and all those things that all those other players have.

“But I think the talent that she’s got and the maturity as well to do what she did at the US Open is off the charts.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Emma. (@emmaraducanu)

 

“I think if she can get herself to being at a good fitness level where she’s built up that resilience over months and years and keeps working on her game, she’ll be right up there with the best in the world and she’ll be competing for grand slams again.

“She’s motivated to want to come back. I don’t know how she’s going to get on but I know that, at some point next year, the year after that, she’s going to be back to being in those finals and those big positions because she’s got everything it takes. It’s just a matter of when.”

Draper can certainly empathise with Raducanu’s fitness struggles having spent much of this year on the sidelines himself.

A lingering hip problem, an abdominal injury and illness limited him to five tournaments over the first four-and-a-half months of the season before he damaged a tendon in his shoulder at the French Open and was forced to miss Wimbledon.

But, since returning in mid-August, Draper has again showed what an exciting talent he is, making the fourth round at the US Open and then reaching his first ATP Tour final in Bulgaria last month.

His ranking, which had plummeted to 123 from a high of 38 in February, is now back up to 61, and the 21-year-old is optimistic his ‘Mr Injured’ tag is behind him.

“I’ve always worked really hard, I’ve always tried to do the right things for my body,” he said.

“And this year I was really excited to see what happened but it just seemed like I kept on getting injured. I think some of it could have been to do with the fact that at the end of last year I changed fitness trainer and the guy was well respected.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jack Draper (@jackdraper)

 

“I loved him to bits and we put in a lot of great work, but I just don’t think it was maybe the right work for me. And so my body kind of broke down.

“I think now, especially after having all those injuries, what’s a positive in it is that I understand my body a whole lot better now. So I feel like, in terms of the body stuff, I’m in a great place.”

Draper is playing catch-up to the likes of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, who are similar in age and have already established themselves at the top of the sport.

“I want to be competing with those two,” he said. “That’s kind of my benchmark of where I want to get to. I see myself being right up there with them. It’s just my past has been a little bit different. I’ve had certain things that have held me back.

“Next year, I want to be top 20 in the world. I want to stay injury free. I want to make sure that I’m able to play five sets in the grand slams without breaking down physically.

“I feel like I’ve got great people around me, I’ve got the mindset where I want to achieve great things. It’s just fulfilling my potential, whatever that looks like.”

Watching from the sidelines gave Draper the chance to reflect on his career so far, and he added: “I’ve had a bit of a mindset shift in terms of my perspective on life.

“And I feel like that’s a big part of why I’ve come back so quickly is because I feel like I’m a much better player now than I was when I was 38 in the world.”

Draper will spend Christmas at home before travelling to Australia on December 29 ahead of his first tournament in Adelaide beginning on January 8.

Related items

  • Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025 Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025

    Boris Becker says he is “working hard with the authorities” to return to the UK and Wimbledon in 2025.

    The three-time Wimbledon men’s singles champion was deported from the UK in December 2022 after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for hiding £2.5m of assets and loans in a bankruptcy fraud case.

    Becker cannot return to the UK until October 2024 at the earliest following his deportation, but the 56-year-old German plans to return to the tournament he says is “in my DNA” as soon as possible.

    “Wimbledon has been my favourite tournament as a player, coach and commentator,” Becker said at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid.

    “It’s unique, you can’t compare it.

    “I lived in Wimbledon a long time so I’m working hard with the authorities to have all the applications ready to be back for next year. We’re working on 2025.

    “It’s a part of my life. It’s in my DNA, you can’t deny that.”

    Asked if he would be back in the Wimbledon commentary box, Becker replied: “I hope so.”

    Becker has not been involved in tennis since stepping down as Holger Rune’s head coach at the start of February.

    The pair spent less than four months together, but in that time the 20-year-old qualified for the ATP finals in Italy.

    ::The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards take place on Monday evening in Madrid. To find out more, and follow the ceremony, visit www.laureus.com

  • Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement

    Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has announced her retirement from tennis.

    The 30-year-old Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 before lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court the following summer but she had not played a competitive match since January 2023.

    At a press conference where she was announced as a Laureus Ambassador, Muguruza said: “If 25 years ago, when I started hitting my first tennis balls, someone had told me that I would become a professional tennis player, that I would fulfil my dream of winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon, that I would become number one in the world and win the WTA Finals, I would have thought this person was crazy.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Women’s Tennis Association (@wta)

    “Tennis has given me a lot in this first part of my life. It has been a fantastic journey in which I have experienced unique situations. I have travelled all over the world and experienced many different cultures.

    “I am tremendously grateful to all the people who have helped and accompanied me throughout this chapter, because without them I would not have been able to get here.

    “I have grown and matured in a very different way than what can be considered normal, and now I am ready to start a new chapter in my life, which will surely be linked in some way to tennis and sports.

    “I hope that my collaboration with Laureus Sport for Good is the beginning of many more projects in which I can dedicate myself and help young people through sport.”

    Muguruza turned professional in 2012 and reached her first grand slam final three years later at Wimbledon, where she was beaten by Serena Williams.

    But the big-hitting Spaniard took revenge in 2016 when she stunned Williams in the final at Roland Garros, and a year later she beat Venus Williams to add the Wimbledon trophy to her collection.

    She climbed to the top of the rankings in September 2017, where she stayed for four weeks, but consistency was not Muguruza’s strong point and she slipped down the standings before a resurgence in 2020.

    Muguruza reached her fourth grand slam final at the Australian Open, losing to American Sofia Kenin, and she returned to the world’s top three at the end of 2021 after winning the WTA Finals for the first time.

    But the next season saw her plummet back down the rankings and her retirement comes as no surprise given her long hiatus from the sport.

  • Emma Raducanu’s run at Stuttgart Open ended by world number one Iga Swiatek Emma Raducanu’s run at Stuttgart Open ended by world number one Iga Swiatek

    Emma Raducanu’s progress in the Stuttgart Open was halted in straight sets by world number one Iga Swiatek.

    The Polish four-time grand slam champion, in her 100th week on top of the ATP world rankings, prevailed 7-6 (2) 6-3 to set up a semi-final showdown with Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.

    It was, however, an encouraging quarter-final performance from Raducanu, who has slipped to 303 in the world rankings after a torrid 2023.

    Raducanu came in to the contest on a high after winning four matches in a row for the first time since her US Open title in 2021 and raised confidence levels were reflected in the opening exchanges.

    Several booming returns from the 21-year-old Briton turned a 0-40 deficit into an immediate break of serve, but Swiatek levelled after edging a second game that featured seven deuces.

    That see-saw battle set the tone for a marathon 70-minute opening set which produced plenty of high-quality ground strokes from both sides of the net.

    The match went with serve from that point, with Raducanu superbly holding her nerve at 5-4 and 6-5 down to force the first set to a tie-break.

    Swiatek completely dominated the tie-break though, winning the first four points before closing it out 7-2.

    Raducanu was quickly in trouble again in the second set, falling 2-0 behind and covered in clay after losing her footing on the baseline.

    She continued to fight and fended off break points in her next two service games to stay in the match.

    But Swiatek kept up the pressure to finally end Raducanu’s resistance to move in to the last four.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.