Emma Raducanu confident she can return to her best if she stays injury free

By Sports Desk January 12, 2024

Emma Raducanu believes she is “too good” not to get back to the top of the game – if she can stay fit.

The 21-year-old will play a grand-slam match for the first time in a year when she takes on American Shelby Rogers in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Triple surgery on both wrists and one ankle put Raducanu off the tour for eight months but she gave a reminder of what a high-class tennis player she is in her comeback tournament in Auckland last week.

The biggest question mark remains the robustness of Raducanu’s body, and she pulled out of two exhibition matches this week with soreness following a long practice session on Monday.

 

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Any fears about her participation in Melbourne have since been allayed, and she said: “Physically I feel good. I did a lot of good work in the off-season.

“But I think that, regardless of how good I may feel on the court on a particular day or in practice, I think to get that level of consistency is going to require more time.

“I’ve been doing the right work, doing it consistently. I just need to keep going more and more. But I feel good on court and in the gym.”

Raducanu is currently ranked down at 299 as a result of her long break, although she can enter tournaments using her protected ranking from before surgery of 103.

“I think success to me in the long-term is, for the rest of the year, to play a full season, to be healthy throughout, to be able to train consistent weeks,” she said.

“I know my level is there, I just need to keep working on it to make it more consistent. I think that will come with time in the gym, time on court, being able to play the calendar, not thinking about ‘Will I have to pull out from this one, does that hurt’?

“I think my level, to be honest, is just too good not to come through if I put consistent work together.”

Raducanu practised with British duo Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage on Friday and earned rave reviews from both.

“I think it’s absolutely incredible what she’s doing,” said Boulter. “To come back with that level already, it’s inspirational.

“You know how long it took me to get back (from injury). It really isn’t easy, trust me. It’s not something that you can just pick up like that. It seems like she’s playing very, very well. I’m sure it’s going to be a great year for her. I’m expecting big things.”

Without a coach for most of her recovery, Raducanu is in Melbourne with Nick Cavaday, who she previously worked with between the ages of 10 and 12.

Raducanu hopes it will prove a good fit, saying: “We’re just taking it how it goes. It’s been working really well so far.

“I, of course, hope to continue with him because I feel very comfortable with him. I know his sister (former British player Naomi Cavaday) really well because, like, everyone is from Bromley.”

 

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Cavaday previously coached Dominic Inglot and Aljaz Bedene before heading up the Lawn Tennis Association’s national academy in Loughborough.

There is no indication Raducanu will look to add a full-time fitness trainer or physio to her team, with the former US Open champion keen to keep a tight circle around her.

She cuts a much happier figure than for most of the period post her New York triumph, and she said: “I feel a lot lighter now than I did for a long time after US Open. I feel like I’m not playing with a backpack of rocks. I feel pretty light and happy.

“Reflecting on the past, I think people are very important. I think surrounding yourself with competent and knowledgeable people is of course really important, but also the type of person and their character is big-time, just making sure we really get on and intentions are really good.”

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