Emma Raducanu has been slowly but surely finding her winning rhythm in recent events. Here are the reasons the Brit is sure to make a comeback this year.
Following her US Open win, Emma Raducanu has been the center of much criticism. This was primarily due to unwarranted hype surrounding unrealistic expectations imposed on the teen at the time, who had barely started her pro career. Regardless, Raducanu’s commitment to her training and composure in the face of her critics has resulted in some recent successes, setting up a blueprint for a strong comeback in 2022.
1. Emma Raducanu’s maturity is growing
There’s no doubt that Emma Raducanu was due for a period of “seasoning” to take place after her early career success at the US Open. It’s not often that a teen so early in their pro careers has the world at their feet, and while the Brit handled the world’s attention exceptionally well, it was inevitable that she would soon be faced with the grinding nature of the sport. This meant adjusting to new training regimes, adhering to greater levels of discipline, and maintaining consistency in her work ethic like never before.
Of course, this adjustment came at the cost of some early-round exits, most notably at the Australian Open, where fans were disappointed to see a drop in results from her last Grand Slam performance. Despite snark remarks from critics about the teen being a “one-hit wonder,” the truth is that Raducanu was dealing with a series of overuse injuries in the form of blisters and other related issues that would ultimately hinder her play. As her body and mind adjust to the daily grind of the Hologic WTA Tour, Raducanu is slowly learning how to manage her setbacks and participate even at less than her best.
2. She’s loving the clay!
The clay surface is not often a favorite among tennis players, as the slow bounce means it can be more demanding to finish a point. Emma Raducanu’s unfamiliarity with the surface meant some rigorous training was needed to prepare for the clay season ahead. “This time last week, I was practicing in Prague, and I genuinely didn’t know how to move. The fitness trainer was teaching me how to slide using a medicine ball. So I’m really pleased with how I’ve improved in a week,” Raducanu confessed upon entering the quarterfinal in Stuttgart.
Emma Raducanu’s recent success at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix event in Stuttgart is testimony to her growing confidence on the clay surface, which was amplified through a prior clay-court win at the Billie Jean King Cup. In an interview with WTA Insider, Raducanu stated, “I keep telling everyone around me that one day clay is going to be my surface, and I still believe that. I think game-wise on clay, especially when you’re playing outside, you definitely need to be a lot more patient and build the point…which takes a lot more energy and physical demand.” Whether she’s built for it or not, Emma Raducanu’s positive attitude and understanding of the clay surface are sure to bring her results in one way or another.
3. Her close clash with Iga Swiatek
The clay surface is not favorable for most players, though there are some exceptions. Heavy topspin is the key to winning on clay, as we’ve seen time and time again by the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal himself. In many ways, Iga Swiatek can be compared to the Spaniard for her relentless topspin and sliding abilities on the clay court. Her recent triumph at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is testimony to that. Swiatek’s strong clay-court record and her 2020 French Open title win could see her rise as the new “Queen of Clay” on the Hologic WTA Tour.
Considering this, defeating Iga Swiatek, who is in red-hot form and at the number one position, was never an easy task, especially on her preferred surface. Emma Raducanu had a solid start to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, and in her first-ever WTA clash with Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old did exceptionally well to go down 4-6 4-6 to the world No.1. Considering her lack of experience on clay compared to Swiatek, Raducanu showed she has the playstyle to excel on the surface, and with practice, she is sure to get there.
4. She’s been at the top and bottom of tennis
From US Open championship status to first-round exits at minor tournaments, Emma Raducanu has seen the full spectrum of her tennis form. As the saying goes, sometimes it’s more important to have a “hell” to run away from than a “heaven” to run towards. Seeing her poor performances clear as day with the knowledge that she has what it takes to be a Grand Slam champion could be a lethal combo for an epic comeback to the 2022 season.
Another benefit of Raducanu’s rollercoaster-like experience in the tennis world is that she has been on both ends of media attention and comments from critics. Indeed, the British teen is familiar with the encouraging praise of global fans and the harsh criticism of “haters” who label her as a one-trick pony. As such, Raducanu has developed a more stoic-like approach to how she handles the media, emphasizing her training and not paying attention to the noise of social media. Her rare experiences being at both ends of the tennis “praise meter” at such an early age will surely go a long way in her career.
5. Raducanu’s US Open secret
Tennis has always been a mental sport, and one’s approach to each match in this regard can have profound effects on the outcome. For Emma Raducanu, she has stated on several occasions that the lack of expectation placed on her by others and by herself was what propelled her to win the US Open. Since then, the Brit has always strived to keep this mindset in every match she plays, focusing on giving it her best and looking away from “the prize” as much as possible. Raducanu’s mentality is undoubtedly up to scratch. Her biggest hindrance to her performance in recent times does not stretch far beyond the realm of grind-related injuries, namely blisters.
The Stuttgart Open saw Iga Swiatek lift the trophy for her fourth consecutive WTA title, but that’s not all that came out of the event. Behind the scenes, Emma Raducanu jumped to an all-new career-high ranking as she now sits at world No.11. Just short of entering the Top 10, Emma Raducanu has nothing but positivity to take away from the Stuttgart Open. Her accumulating match wins on clay, and a strong showing against the rising Clay Queen and world No.1 are promising signs for the British teen to make a resounding impact for the rest of the clay season moving forward. (photos: Jimmie48)