It’s no secret that Emma Raducanu is one of many players to cop a COVID-19 related tennis withdrawal. Can the teen bounce back for Aussie Open success?
The 2022 Australian Open is just around the corner, and while many players are getting their match practice in with the Melbourne warm-up event, others are unfortunately unable to participate due to testing positive for the coronavirus. 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu is one of such players to suffer this unlucky outcome, but she is making progress towards recovery and preparing herself to compete at Melbourne Park for her Australian Open career debut.
Emma Raducanu has the mindset for success
Cool, calm, and collected are the three C’s of Emma Raducanu’s game plan and she embodies these principles on and off the court through focus and composure. Indeed, the 19-year-old is still new to competing on the big stage and there is much to learn for her, but we can see from her attitude and mindset at the US Open that she was carrying the traits of a champion long before she was anywhere near getting her hands on the trophy. Often times, it comes down to embodying the person you want to be before you actually transform into that person, and Raducanu seemingly understands this philosophy at a deeper level.
Experienced hard-court champion
One of the more significant reasons we can get behind Emma this year at the Australian Open is that the court surface at Melbourne Park is almost a replicate of the US Open surface, that is, a type of acrylic hard court but supposedly a little more cushiony than its New York counterpart. Considering Emma’s blazing success on this surface having not dropped a single set on her road from a qualifier to Grand Slam champion, it’s safe to say she handles the surface very well. Of course, the atmosphere in Australia is likely to differ greatly compared to the US, and no amount of similar court surface experience can truly prepare Raducanu for the real thing, her first appearance at the Australian Open.
Emma’s greatest obstacle is ultimately herself
The events that followed the US Open of last year were a little anti-climactic for the British teen who experienced a first-round loss at the Indian Wells to world No.100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich. She made a significant improvement to reach the quarterfinals of the Transylvania Open where she inevitably lost to world No.55 Marta Kostyuk, showing good on-court performances but still far from her best. Raducanu’s most recent match was against world No.106 Wang Xinyu at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz where she once again lost in her first actual match at the event after receiving a first-round bye.
For someone to go from not dropping a set in a Grand Slam as a qualifier to losing first-round matches is a strong indication that Emma’s greatest obstacle to success is indeed herself. Naturally, many critics will suggest she is caught up in the spotlight and not handling things well due to inexperience, but I would argue against this. The reality of Emma’s US Open success is that she played like she had nothing to lose as she admitted to doing herself, whereas now she may be feeling pressure at a subconscious level to perform at her utmost best.
Closing the curtains of the coach chronicles
Of course, all of these events are still new experiences for the young star, and it will take some time for her to adjust to her new life in the spotlight. Another factor which may have affected Emma Raducanu’s performance post-New York is something that many of the best players face each day, and that is giving it their all in each tournament with adequate preparation and focus. There will always be that drop in drive and motivation for smaller tournaments as opposed to the prestigious Grand Slam events, so finding a way to perform at your best in each tournament takes time, practice, and a good support team.
An important point to make here as well is the inexperience of Emma’s old coach for mentoring her on a larger scale, particularly after her sudden global success. It is no secret that Emma Raducanu has been the centre of attention during her search for a new coach, but now that she has secured Torben Beltz, the former coach of Angelique Kerber, things may be heading towards a positive direction for the teen. Having an experienced coach of a former world No.1 and three-time Grand Slam champion player, Emma is playing her cards well and making strategic decisions to give herself the best shot at Australian Open success.
Can she do it? Final thoughts
Emma Raducanu most certainly has the woodchucks she needs to make a statement at the 2022 Australian Open. However, this will be her first Grand Slam since becoming a champion last year, and with the stakes higher than they’ve ever been for the young teen she may not feel the same freedom of expectations as she did at the US Open. Nevertheless, a new coach and the passing of time for things to settle down have certainly taken their course, so it will be interesting to see how Raducanu competes against the WTA’s best as a more experienced professional of the sport.
With opponents such as Naomi Osaka and childhood idol Simona Halep set to make an appearance at Melbourne Park, it will be a tough route for the young Brit, to say the least. Regardless of the differences in experience, we are given a blank canvas here of top players that have yet to meet Emma Raducanu on court, so until the first point is played there is only so much we can speculate about these never-before-seen matchups. The 2022 Australian Open is set to be an action-packed event and as far as the WTA goes, it’s anyone’s title!