As Emma Raducanu completes her preparations before resuming competition in her first professional tournament on Romanian soil in Cluj-Napoca, she stressed the need to be patient with her career as she continues to grow in tennis from high level, despite its early successes.
“I skipped a bunch of build-up levels and build-up stages where you normally work, play your way in the game,” she said. “I basically went from $ 25,000 to Masters (WTA) 500 and 250. I just need to be patient with myself, not to expect too much, and I’m learning to accept that it’s not. is not that easy. Just bounce back positively.
When she takes on Slovenian Polona Hercog at the Transylvanian Open in a match scheduled for no later than 6 p.m. Tuesday night, it will only be Raducanu’s sixth career event – she is still on the hunt for her first victory over the WTA circuit. “Patience is the key. Because, like I said, there are a lot of downs, where you get to know your game. You gradually adapt to each level. I kind of went from zero to the top of the game! So it’s obviously going to take a while to adjust and adapt, but hopefully with a good job I can do that. “
Such a prospect is shared by seed Simona Halep, one of Raducanu’s idols, who has been open with her compliments to Raducanu since her US Open title and believes “she’s capable of doing anything “. Having navigated a career that required her to learn the right lessons from some truly devastating losses, few are better placed to appreciate the turbulence of the sport.
“Even though she’s so young, I think she feels the pressure. It’s normal, everyone does it, ”she said, before addressing the group of British journalists. “You better enjoy her results, tennis, the way she is. She’s super nice and is waiting for her to grow up a bit to that level because she just jumped now. She did something right and probably, this is only my opinion, she will need some time to see what it is like each week to be there. And then she will get stronger. Much stronger. “
As his fame grows, Raducanu will also have to adjust to how others respond to him. As Aliaksandra Sasnovich showed at Indian Wells by producing such a clean and efficient game to beat her, facing her is now an event. Her opponents through the net will see her as a possible victory over a grand slam champion rather than an inexperienced 18-year-old. They will sometimes bring their best level.
The adjustments off the field are also already clear. Her decision not to continue her temporary coaching contract with Andrew Richardson, for example, has become a far bigger story than she surely hoped, and she now speaks cautiously about the subject in interviews. There are already a growing number of unnecessary opinions to ignore, the most recent from 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta.
“In my day, it could never have happened that a girl who started with qualifying, like Emma Raducanu in New York, won a Grand Slam,” she told Corriere Della Sera. “The best athletes have made too much of a difference. There is something wrong. The charisma is lacking, so women’s tennis is more difficult to sell. It should be noted that Pennetta’s only Grand Slam title came against Roberta Vinci in a game watched by 1.6 million people in the United States, compared to 2.44 million spectators this year for Raducanu against Leylah Fernandez.
At the BTArena on Monday, the main draw began a day after a group of Romanian players and Raducanu said a moving farewell to the crowd before the new Covid-19 restrictions came into force. Gone are the spectators who had been fascinated by a simple training match between Raducanu and Elena-Gabriela Ruse, just like the man who was walking in the park with a cape and his face painted a deadly white, and who reflected the amount of efforts that clearly entered the Transylvanian Open, which even marketed with many well done Dracula references.
The spectator ban is a blow to the tournament, but life goes on. For Raducanu, while she would have liked to compete in front of a warm Romanian audience, it’s not a bad place to be. After all, playing in the silence of a spectatorless tennis court, as it has been for most of her career, is perhaps the most familiar feeling she’s known in a game in quite some time. time.