Emma Raducanu highlights that she is "far from a finished product" and reveals she is now fully enjoying everything and hoping to keep improving and win at least one title this year.
Raducanu, a former world No. 10, is preparing to play her third comeback tournament at the Abu Dhabi Open this week. In January, Raducanu made the Auckland round-of-16 in her first tournament back, while she lost in the second round at the Australian Open.
On paper, a 2-2 record isn't anything impressive but Raducanu looked competitive and good on the court in her first two tournaments. And most importantly, Raducanu didn't feel any pain in her first two tournaments back.
Now that 21-year-old Raducanu is finally fully healthy and without any limitations, she is determined to work hard on her game and unlock her potential to the fullest. Raducanu may be setting big goals for herself but underlines that she is being "patient" and not rushing anything.
“I’m still finding my feet on the match court, I’m not fully there but that will come with time. I’m very patient and very grateful to enjoy what I’m doing," Raducanu told The National.
“I’m just trying to improve my game because I’m not the finished product, far from it. I feel like now is the time to start because I’ve had some illness and injuries over the couple of years since [winning the US Open], so I’m looking forward to working on my game, improving my level and the results will take care of themselves.”
Raducanu thrilled to finally be fully healthy
Shortly after winning the 2021 US Open, Raducanu started to experience constant injuries and physical setbacks. That translated to Raducanu's game and form as the Briton started picking up early exits and being inconsistent.
After the 2022 season, Raducanu focused on gym work and getting stronger. But even a hard gym and training block didn't help Raducanu, who sustained an ankle injury in her first tournament of the 2023 season and her wrist issues also returned. After appearing in just five tournaments through the first four months of the 2023 season, Raducanu made the call to have surgery on both wrists and her right ankle.
Reflecting on a period of constant injuries, Raducanu reveals she was very limited in practice because there was always a fear of aggravating her wrist injury. But those times are a thing of the past and Raducanu can now train as much as she wants and there are no limitations in how hard she can train.
“I’ve never really had the chance to do proper training weeks back-to-back. For six or seven months, before I ended up having the surgeries, I was only practicing one or two hours a day just to limit the load on the wrists,” Raducanu reflected.
“In a way, it’s frustrating that the last couple of years haven’t been how I’ve wanted but I think we take a lesson from everything and now is the time to start that work, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Raducanu on what would be a success for her
Since winning her first title on the main level at the 2021 US Open, Raducanu hasn't had any other triumphs. Over the last two and a half years, Raducanu has just once come close to winning a WTA title - in 2022 Seoul.
In late 2022 September, Raducanu made the semifinal at a WTA 250 tournament in Seoul. After making a strong start to the match, Raducanu's level dropped and Jelena Ostapenko came back to take a 4-6 6-3 3-0 lead before the Briton retired due to injury. That has been Raducanu's lone WTA semifinal since winning the 2021 US Open.
When it comes to Raducanu's goals for 2023, she hopes to continue improving in practice and then translate that to her matches. Also, Raducanu admits it would be nice to lift some titles this year.
“For me, success would be seeing my level improving in practice first and then in matches," Raducanu said.
"I know that when my level will be there, putting it into a match will take some time to apply. But I know that seeing the level increase, that results will follow. Also, I would love to win a title of any grade."
This week, Raducanu is debuting at a WTA 250 tournament in Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi, some of the biggest names of the game are competing, including Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur, and Naomi Osaka.
In her opening match, Raducanu will be taking on Marie Bouzkova as the Briton and the Czech are set for their first meeting. If Raducanu successfully makes it past Bouzkova, her next opponent would be No. 2 seed Jabeur.
Considering how tough of a draw Raducanu received, it certainly won't be easy for Raducanu to win her first title of the season in Abu Dhabi.