EMMA RADUCANU’s Italian Open debut ended in a first-round injury retirement.
Emma Raducanu has admitted she needs someone to “hold her hand” following her retirement against Bianca Andreescu in Rome. The world No 11 was forced to forfeit the match with injury while trailing by a set and a break, and later confessed she needed a voice to help her be “sensible” as she remains without a full-time coach.
Raducanu has been suffering from a back injury in recent weeks and it forced her to retire while 6-1 2-1 down to Andreescu in a battle of the US Open champions in what was both women’s Italian Open debut. World No 11 later confessed to over-playing and said it would help to have someone to “hold her hand” and advise her on when to play.
“Of course, I want to play every opportunity I have, and probably even when I shouldn’t,” she said, conceding that playing in Rome wasn’t the best idea. “But, you know, I just really need to be sensible. Sometimes I feel like I need a voice to, you know, just hold my hand, Do this, do that.”
The 19-year-old’s words come after she split with Torben Beltz, her coach of five months, after reaching her first quarter-final of the year. Raducanu has since been working with Iain Bates, the head of women’s tennis at the LTA. Now without a head coach, Raducanu initially sounded happy to be alone as she said: “I’d describe me as a loner. For the past year, I’ve had a lot of people around me a lot and very often. To be on my own is interesting because I’m kind of finding out a lot about myself, understanding what I need and what I don’t need.”
The world No 11 is now in a race against time to recover ahead of the French Open, as she doesn’t want to make the same mistake she did this week and play while unfit. “I hope that I can just get my back right and my body fully fit. I think that next week might be a tight turnaround, even though I wanted to play next week and get more matches on clay. My back takes priority, so we’ll see what happens,” she said
Raducanu first started dealing with a stiff back in Indian Wells but it caused troubles for her in Stuttgart and Madrid. Speaking of her recent injury woes, she said: “It’s weird because when I’m playing in practice, I can practice for a good few hours a day, I’m putting in a lot of hours on the practice court.
“I’m not sure whether the quality or the ball I’m receiving in practice, I mean, it’s not the same when I’m playing these matches because I definitely feel like the matches are taking a lot more out of me than they probably should. I had a match in Stuttgart, my first round, it was, like, (6-1, 6-2) or something, (6-0, 6-1), I don’t know. The next day I felt like I was in bits. It became like a running joke.”
In what has been the first clay-court season of Raducanu’s professional career, she played two matches in Billie Jean King Cup before reaching the last-eight in Stuttgart and the third round in Madrid and thought her body was still adjusting to playing a full schedule. “It’s probably the match load, just getting used to it. Also back to back, just playing week in, week out. Looking back, since [Billie Jean King] Cup I’ve been home, like, for one day,” she noted.