Emma Raducanu gets brutally honest on playing on clay, her least preferred surface

Raducanu addresses her clay game and Great Britain's BJK Cup qualifiers chances against France.

by Dzevad Mesic
Emma Raducanu gets brutally honest on playing on clay, her least preferred surface
© Getty Images Sport - Alex Pantling

Emma Raducanu admits clay isn't the surface where she feels the most comfortable but adds that she is embracing the challenge of playing on the dirt in the upcoming weeks as she is hoping to lead Great Britain to win over a "super strong" French team.

Raducanu, 21, agreed to represent Great Britain in this week's Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers tie in Rouen. Since France was picked as the host, they expectedly chose clay as the surface for the tie in Le Portel between April 12-13. 

For Raducanu * who prefers faster surfaces - it will be just the sixth time in her pro career that she is playing on clay. Previously, Raducanu made four appearances in clay WTA tournaments and she also played for Great Britain when the Czech Republic hosted them on clay in 2022. 

"I do love moving on clay, sliding, I find it very fun. It's interesting, I think it's different," Raducanu told the LTA.

"It's not necessarily the surface that I'm most comfortable on or my most preferred surface, but it's something that I enjoy the challenge of."

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Raducanu gets candid about the difficult task of beating France 

Playing on clay won't be the only big challenge that Raducanu is about to face as the Briton warns that France has a very strong team, which will make it only a harder task for her and the rest of the team in Le Portel.

Besides Raducanu, Great Britain will also be represented by recent San Diego Open champion Katie Boulter and there are also Harriet Dart and Heather Watson. 

When it comes to the French team, their selection features 2022 WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia, Clara Burel, Diane Parry and Kristina Mladenovic. In singles, Garcia will be France's top hope while in doubles they also have a mega-strong team as Garcia and Mladenovic have won a couple of Grand Slams together as a pair.

"It's a super strong team. They have an amazing doubles pair. They have a great singles lineup so they could play anyone they want. They have so many options," Raducanu underlined.

Raducanu certainly respects France ahead of the tie but hopes that she can do well in what will be her second singles appearance for her nation in the BJK Cup.

"Just to have your team on the bench, it's a nice feeling to have them behind you. You can look up to them whenever you are playing or whenever you feel like you need a bit of (support)... It's a good environment," Raducanu explained.

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

How Raducanu's clay debut when in the BJK Cup in 2022?

Exactly two years ago, Raducanu's made her clay debut in Prague during the BJK Cup qualifiers tie against the Czech Republic. In her very first match on clay as a pro, Raducanu actually did extremely well as she even managed to beat former world No. 40 Tereza Martincova 7-5 7-5. 

"It was my first match on clay in such a long time, like four years. So I think I was very, I'm not sure... Apprehensive maybe at the start, not sure how it's going to go but I got into it, I worked really hard, I played Tereza Martincova who's from Czech so they play a lot on clay and it was a great win for me to start the season," Raducanu recounted.

After beating Martincova, Raducanu lost her following match of the tie as 2023 Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova ousted her 6-1 6-1 as the Czech Republic went on to seal a 3-2 win in that tie. 

Although Raducanu didn't lead Great Britain to a BJK Cup win two years ago, it was still a respectable showing considering that the tie was played on clay. 

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Now, the British team will be hoping that Raducanu can step up against France and lead them to a win and help them seal a BJK Cup Finals ticket. 

Leading up to the BJK Cup qualifiers, Raducanu competed in Indian Wells, where she overcame Rebeka Masarova and Dayana Yastremska before losing 3-6 5-7 against world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the third round - in a match where she competed extremely well against the two-time Grand Slam champion.

"It was a good success, I would say," Raducanu said afterward.

"I think I have handled myself a lot better on the match court. I was a lot more positive and hungry to play, and that showed I think in the tennis that I did play.

“I had a better mentality: just fighting a lot harder for every point. I think I’m proud of myself for that, just really showing up, being hungry and wanting to be there.”

After Indian Wells, Raducanu withdrew late from the Miami Open due to a lower-back injury. But it was listed as a minor injury so there is probably not too much to be concerned about Raducanu's health going into the BJK Cup qualifiers tie against France.

Emma Raducanu