In Focus

‘Poisoned chalice’: a tough job for Emma Raducanu’s next coach

US Open champion had a disappointing return at Indian Wells 

The question on many people’s lips, as Emma Raducanu returned to competition last week, was “how will she adjust to her new status as a grand slam champion?”, said Tumaini Carayol in The Guardian

To judge from her opening match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, it won’t be an easy ride. Facing Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, ranked 100 in the world, the 17th seed slumped to a 6-2, 6-4 defeat with an error-strewn performance. 

This was a very different Raducanu to the one we saw in New York, said Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph. In the “cold, heavy conditions” of a night match in the Californian desert, she “seemed unable to express herself”: her movement was flat, her body language negative. 

It’s only natural she should feel the pressure: despite being a grand slam champion, she has “yet to land even a set in three appearances at WTA Tour level”. But she was philosophical in defeat, pointing out the need to “cut myself some slack”. Given such an “admirable sense of perspective”, she will quickly regroup, one feels. 

Under a lot of scrutiny

After sensationally winning the US Open last month, Raducanu raised eyebrows by parting with coach Andrew Richardson. She explained that she was now seeking an experienced mentor to take her to the very top, The Guardian reported. 

“It’s tough to have that conversation with anyone,” she said. “But I need someone who’s had that professional tour experience, and has been through it, and seen players in my situation for many years, going through the same because it’s going to take a lot.”

Coaching Raducanu could be a “poisoned chalice”, The Sun reported. Michael Joyce, the mastermind behind Maria Sharapova’s stunning rise, is not convinced top coaches will be in a rush to work with the young Briton.

Joyce was “really surprised” with the wording of the statement when Raducanu announced she was splitting with Richardson. “I didn’t like the statement,” the American said. “If you have a good coach and it works well, then you’d think you would want to stick with them. Why would you want a big-name coach? 

“She’s a great player but it’s going to be a tough job for the next coach, as expectations are high. It’s a tough one for whoever comes in and works with Emma as they won’t have that relationship and they will be under a lot of scrutiny.”

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