Written by by Staff Writer at CNN
Emma Raducanu, the Czech player who came a cropper at the Indian Wells tournament in March, has been described as a “brilliant golfer” and “horse-biter.” But, as she contemplates her future in the sport, the 26-year-old says she has a “lot of learning to do.”
The holder of three Grand Slam singles titles retired from last year’s Indian Wells tournament, but returned to the circuit last month at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.
In the second round, Raducanu slumped to a 6-1, 6-2 defeat against Russian 27th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was playing her first tournament since a career-threatening toe injury.
Asked whether she thought her performances in the upcoming build-up to the French Open could secure her a place in the field in Paris, Raducanu told the South China Morning Post: “I need to cut some slack.
“It’s only the first week of the year and, technically, I’m not too far away from being ready for a Grand Slam.”
But for Raducanu, her loss to Pavlyuchenkova offered a stark reminder of the toll competition takes.
“I didn’t find it emotionally draining, even though I wasn’t playing a great level of tennis — I just learned a lot from the match,” she said.
“It’s just nice to be back on the court and feel good again — it’s good to know that I’m mentally strong enough to win, physically strong enough to compete and mentally strong enough to beat anyone.”
The Czech, who won the Australian Open singles title in 2013 and the US Open in 2014, admitted that she had experienced “no changes” to her tennis body since taking time out.
“But I think I had this in a place at Indian Wells,” she added. “I’m here to show my game and I’m very happy. I’m playing really well and I’m extremely happy I’m back on the tennis tour.”
Raducanu said it was too early to tell what a loss to Nishikori could mean for her in the quest for a career Grand Slam.
“It’s going to be tough for me to be completely pleased,” she said. “I can’t predict where I’m going to end up, but for the moment I’m the same as any other player.”
Among Raducanu’s many coaches has been Kim Clijsters, who last year posted a stark appraisal of her former player’s game.
“Emma Raducanu played the worst match I have ever seen her play,” Clijsters wrote on Twitter after the Czech lost in the first round of the women’s singles at Indian Wells.
Clijsters, who won three Grand Slam titles, also seemed to blame the Czech for her absence from the tour.
“Even the decision making was poor and her shots didn’t show the power that she has on her forehand,” the Belgian wrote.
It’s not the first time that Clijsters has shared her view of Raducanu’s on-court approach. In 2013, Clijsters criticized a tennis journalist for comparing the Czech player to a “poor horse-biter” as she tried to explain the nature of her often-controversial style of play.