Coach Dmitry Tursunov noticed “some red flags that just couldn’t be ignored” during his cooperation with Emma Raducanu and the 2021 US Open champion became the first player that he walked away from. In an exclusive interview with Tennis Majors, the Russian coach explains the reasoning behind his difficult decision.
After successful partnerships with Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit, Tursunov was on a trial with Raducanu this summer, and he even stayed a bit longer than the initially agreed testing period in order to give the cooperation a chance, but eventually he realized that it wouldn’t work out in the long run.
Tursunov says Raducanu is a hard worker, extremely athletic, talented, and coordinated
Tursunov praised Raducanu for her work ethic, hunger to improve and obsession with tennis. Moreover, he pointed out that she never acted like a superstar and he really enjoyed working with her. These positive aspects made his decision to leave even more difficult.
So what was the problem that made Tursunov walk away?
It looks like part of the reason was that Raducanu was not willing to completely get out of her comfort zone, as she “believed that she had to play a certain way.” Tursunov was trying to persuade her to change that mindset and modify her convictions about her game. Even though he was facing some resistance early on, their partnership got on the right track and Raducanu started trusting him:
You come in but before you start planting in the garden you have to clean everything out. Then you plant when everything is clean. That’s what I was trying to do and there was maybe a minor difficulty with that but I think we got past that and were on the right track, and she was starting to trust me a little bit more.
Raducanu’s game is “very raw”, it is “a two-and-a-half-year-project”
In the interview, Tursunov explained his view of Raducanu’s game development:
In my opinion, she’s minimum a one-year project but I would say that she’s probably a two-and-a-half-year project to be on the safe side. Of course, it’s hard to say that and it’s hard for people to understand how it is possible because she already won the US Open. But, in my opinion, her game is very raw, and I think in many ways it could use a lot of improvement.
A disagreement about the terms of their cooperation is the root cause of their split, as Tursunov refused to comply with everything Raducanu’s team proposed:
It’s going to take some time, but as I said to her and to pretty much everyone on her team: I think you just need to have one voice and just try that for a bit. And then if it doesn’t work, you cross that off your list.
Tursunov on his current cooperation with Belinda Bencic
Tursunov is now coaching Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and they are in Bratislava, preparing for the Billie Jean King Cup. Bencic approached him with a desire to improve, not afraid to take risks and get out of her comfort zone. That’s a challenge Tursunov was eager to accept.
Tt has to be said that Tursunov’s split with Raducanu has nothing to do with his transition to Bencic:
I was walking away from Emma regardless of whether there was another [player] available or not. We didn’t agree on the terms and there were some red flags that just couldn’t be ignored.