Tim Henman issues take on Emma Raducanu & major statement on Aryna Sabalenka

Henman shares his thoughts on Raducanu's comeback and Sabalenka's current level.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Tim Henman issues take on Emma Raducanu & major statement on Aryna Sabalenka
© Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel

Former British tennis star Tim Henman says he has been "very impressed" with Emma Raducanu so far in the Briton's comeback as the former six-time Grand Slam semifinalist believes the only way is up for the 21-year-old if she manages to stay injury-free. 

This week, 2021 US Open champion Raducanu concluded her third post-surgery tournament in Abu Dhabi. In her Abu Dhabi debut, Raducanu didn't make a deep run but clinched a very notable 6-4 6-1 win over Marie Bouzkova before losing 6-4 6-1 against No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur. After showing some positive signs in Australia, Raducanu continued that way in Abu Dhabi and most importantly she didn't feel any pain or discomfort this week.

After taking part in three tournaments since the season started, Raducanu is 3-3 in 2024. Considering that it's still very early in her comeback, Henman thinks so far so great for Raducanu as he believes the results will improve if the 21-year-old remains injury-free and continues to work hard and regularly play matches. 

"I thought it was massively exciting to see Raducanu back on the court in 2024. She only played two tournaments but I was very impressed with her," Henman told Sky Sports News.

"If she can play a lot of matches and tournaments without getting those injuries that break her momentum then irrespective of the result, that would be a huge positive for her because her tennis game is so good. The results will come."

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike
 

Henman praises Raducanu, Aryna Sabalenka

Raducanu wasn't the only WTA player praised by Henman as the former world No. 4 also issued a massive praise and statement on Aryna Sabalenka, declaring her "the player to beat" on the WTA Tour. 

Just like in 2023, Sabalenka is off to an outstanding start to the season. At this past Australian Open, Sabalenka was very dominant en route to defending her title at Melbourne Park, making it all the way without a set dropped in seven matches. 

Leading up to the Australian Open, Sabalenka made a deep run at the Brisbane International, where she made the final before Elena Rybakina beat her in straight sets. Early in the season, Sabalenka is 11-1 but she remains ranked behind Iga Swiatek, who is still the top-ranked player with 9,770 ranking points while the Belarusian has 8,905 points.

After winning all five of her singles matches for Poland at the United Cup, Swiatek suffered a shock Australian Open third-round loss to Linda Noskova. While Swiatek is 7-1 at the start of the season, she had a very disappointing outing in Melbourne and Henman believes Sabalenka is now the best in the game despite not being the top-ranked player in the world. 

"Sabalenka might not be the No. 1 in the world but she is the player to beat," Henman said.

"Iga Swiatek has had amazing results and she deserves to be No 1 in the world but with the momentum and confidence Sabalenka has, it's going to take an amazing performance to beat her."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

Henman on the importance of Sabalenka's win over Coco Gauff

After becoming a Grand Slam champion at last year's Australian Open, Sabalenka had a great chance to also lift her second Major at the US Open. But after making a very strong start to the 2023 US Open final, Sabalenka failed to close out the final as 19-year-old Gauff created an impressive 2-6 6-3 6-2 win over the Belarusian to win her first Slam.

At this year's Australian Open, Sabalenka and Gauff met for the first time since their final at Flushing Meadows. This time, Sabalenka got the job done after going up by a set as she beat Gauff 7-6 (2) 6-4 before also defeating Zheng Qinwen in the Australian Open final. 

Henman thinks it was absolutely huge for Sabalenka to get her revenge over Gauff in Melbourne and also highlighted the consistency he is seeing on the WTA Tour.

Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff
Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer
 

"That win for Sabalenka against Gauff was huge because she lost to her in the US Open final when she'd been up a set and a break, and Gauff was able to turn it around," Henman said.

"When you reflect a couple of years ago on WTA it was so unpredictable, you could probably give 15 or 20 female players that could win a Grand Slam.

"Now I look at it and think the top four have kind of separated themselves, they’re all major winners playing in the biggest and best events.

"Building those rivalries up is so important and that's what we’re going to have the opportunity to see."

Meanwhile, Sabalenka is taking some additional time before returning to action as the reigning Australian Open champion won't be returning to action at next week's WTA 1000 event in Doha. Instead, Sabalenka is expected to play again at a WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai in two weeks. 

Tim Henman Emma Raducanu Aryna Sabalenka
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