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Emma Raducanu opens up on ‘guilty’ feeling as Brit admits to Australian Open reality check

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EMMA RADUCANU crashed out of the Australian Open at the second-round stage.

Emma Raducanu has admitted she relishes the “different energy” of Grand Slam tournaments as she prepares to return to the regular WTA Tour next month. And the British No.1 revealed she is discovering the dedication required to stay at the top of tennis – and her “guilt” for not keeping in touch with friends and family on the road.

The Bromley teenager’s meteoric rise into the world’s top 20 has been powered by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon and then winning the US Open.

The world No.18 will even go up in the rankings despite her blister-induced second-round defeat at the Australian Open.

But the British No.1 has only won two matches in six normal events on Tour. Both those wins came at the same event – the Transylvanian Open in October – and she has suffered five first-round defeats.

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After a spell back home, Raducanu is set to next appear at two 250 hardcourt events in Mexico – Guadalajara and Monterrey – before the Indian Wells and Miami Masters in March.

In Raducanu’s upside-down world, she now has to learn to win a normal event away from the spotlight after conquering the world in New York. The French Open starts on May 22.

“I really enjoy the Slams,” she said. “There is a different energy about them. I really enjoy the Australian Open.

“It’s definitely a lot of work to stay at the top. When I was lower down the ranks I definitely thought that once you were in that top bracket you could stay there. But you can’t. You pretty much have to be on it every week. Be really focussed, really work hard. I think I’ve put it in on this trip.”

Her first Grand Slam event as a Major champion was hindered by spending 21 days without training after contracting coronavirus last month.

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“Obviously Covid, but also some medical information I’d rather not share,” she said.

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And then a blister on her racket hand saw her lose to world No.98 Danka Kovninic here

“It’s very rare for me to be that long away from tennis so I think my hands definitely suffered from that,” the 19-year-old said.

“Then coming here you want to make up the hours but I think you need to be smart about it. It’s good to learn.”

This year is promising to be a long learning experience on and off the court as she adjusts to being an international competitor while her school pals are back home.

“My communication with other friends is less because I just don’t really have as much time as before to catch up,” she said.

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“There are moments when I’m not on my phone or not replying to people and I feel guilty. But I’m prioritising my work and we’re very fortunate with what we get to do, the places we get to go travelling the world. Everywhere I go I like to take a day or two to just visit the place; that makes it easier. I was going on some walks because I’ve been trying to do some steps. I got this number fixated in my head – 10,000 – because I was doing that in my room during isolation.”

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She promised her usual physio Will Herbert – The Mechanic – will be back working with her alongside new coach Torben Beltz.

“I’m taking positives away from this trip even though it was difficult and not the result we would have wanted,” she said.

“It was just unfortunate timing.”

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