EMMA RADUCANU says she is not stressed about playing the Australian Open on Monday despite a lack of match practice and dealing with another pre-tournament injury scare.
The 20-year-old left the ASB Classic in Auckland in tears when she slipped and rolled her left ankle while playing on indoor courts and was forced to quit the second-round tie.
Since arriving in Melbourne, it has been an issue that she has had to manage and one that has impacted on her preparations.
Of course, this is not the first time Raducanu has had to field questions about her fitness and physical state before the start of a major.
Since winning the 2021 US Open in New York, she has hardly experienced any proper length of time where she has either been pain-free or without some sort of ailment.
Yet ahead of a first-round tie against German Tamara Korpatsch in Melbourne, the British No.1 projected an upbeat persona and told her fans not to panic.
Raducanu said: “In the match (in New Zealand), obviously at the time, you’re a bit worried about it.
“When you just go over, you don’t really know what’s going on. But yeah we’ve been working very hard.
“It’s been a team effort to get me to this place. We’ve definitely expedited the process but I’m feeling really good and looking forward to getting out on the court.
“It’s just a huge, huge props to my team, really here and back home, who have helped get me to this place.
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“I started practising midweek, and we’ve been building it up pretty gradually.
“But I think that I’ve not really played much tennis ever in my career so I’m kind of used to it. And I’m not stressed about a lack of tennis that much.
“Obviously, this week I’m quite light on tennis. It’s just been a massive effort from all of us to get onto the court Monday and I’m really looking forward to enjoying that.”
Raducanu starts this event with a new coach in her corner and despite her reputation for hiring-and-firing mentors, newbie Sebastian Sachs appears to be settling in well into her team.
The 30-year-old may have limited experience as a pro – he played college tennis in the USA at Oklahoma State University and later joined the Futures Tour – but his tennis IQ is well respected.
Hours spent in the off-season with new conditioning coach Jez Green – who used to work with Andy Murray – have put Raducanu in “stronger shape” ahead of the 2023 season.
The Kent ace said: “I’m in a better condition physically. I did a lot of work and I’m very pleased with how it went physically.
“I started playing tennis pretty late, just because of some ongoing issues I had at the back end of last year.
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“But I think that I’m going to carry on building through this year, and hopefully carry on that momentum.
“I really like Seb. We’ve been doing some great work. He’s very objective. He’s really experienced. I just love the way that we're working together and I really hope it lasts.”
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