French Open: 'I could be a great clay-court player' – Raducanu

By Sports Desk May 20, 2022

Emma Raducanu declared she "could be a great clay-court player" ahead of her French Open debut at Roland Garros.

US Open winner Raducanu only made her professional clay-court debut in April, managing a straight-sets victory over Storm Sanders in Stuttgart, before quarter-final elimination to world number one Iga Swiatek.

The 19-year-old Briton followed that up with a last-16 appearance in Madrid, where she was defeated by Anhelina Kalinina as she struggled with a back injury.

Raducanu, speaking at a media conference on Friday ahead of the second major of the year, suggested she has the credentials to succeed on clay courts.

"I could be a great clay-court player, like looking forward, long, medium-term, in a few years where I have definitely developed more robustness and I'm able to repeat the same shots over and over," she said.

"I think I have definitely come a long way and probably progressed faster than expected in the last few weeks and I really am enjoying the clay. I really believe that I can be good and faster than I thought it would be."

World number 12 Raducanu retired in Rome last week while trailing against Canadian Bianca Andreescu due to a recurring back issue.

However, she confirmed she will be fit to feature in Paris, where she meets a qualifier in the first round 

"I'm learning about my body, but I'm very happy to be continuing my preparations for the French Open and to be able to play this tournament and fortunately I didn't have to miss this Grand Slam," Raducanu added.

"That is definitely a really positive thing because I really look forward to these big moments and the big tournaments.

"After Rome, I definitely had to slow down, but this week I have been training and luckily being able to practise all of the shots.

"I'm looking forward to continuing that, and it feels good to be able to move freely and just like run around. It's quite fun. I have been preparing as normal the last few days."

If Raducanu can negotiate past her first-round clash, she will then take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Wang Xinyu before a potential last-16 meeting with Ons Jabeur, who first has to get past Poland's Magda Linette.

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    Having endured an injury-hit few years since her 2021 US Open triumph, Raducanu was able to enter the year's second grand slam with a protected ranking of 103rd.

    However, that was not enough to put her on the automatic entry list and she was not awarded a wildcard, making her third alternate for the women's draw.

    No reason has been given for Raducanu's withdrawal from next week's qualifying tournament, and she can now only feature at Roland-Garros if three players drop out.

    Raducanu was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Argentine qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle in the first round of the Madrid Open last month, subsequently saying she was "mentally and emotionally exhausted".

    A host of withdrawals meant she did not have to go through qualifying for the Australian Open earlier this year, though she was beaten by China's Wang Yafan in the second round. 

    Raducanu has not made it past the second round in six major appearances since her triumph at Flushing Meadows, and she missed the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open last year after undergoing wrist and ankle surgeries.

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