Emma Raducanu: Tim Henman loves 'attitude' and 'work ethic' and backs British No. 1 to win 'more big titles'
Emma Raducanu may not have made a deep run at the Australian Open, but former British No. 1 Tim Henman liked what he saw from the 19-year-old in Melbourne. Stream the 2022 Australian Open live and on-demand on discovery+. A subscription for discovery+ is now £29.99 for the first year for UK users, down from £59.99.
‘A challenging start!’ – Henman says it feels like Raducanu was ‘playing catch up’ this year
The 19-year-old will now look ahead to her first full season on the WTA Tour as she aims to build on her stunning success in New York last summer.
“It's been a pretty challenging start to the year for Raducanu,” former British No. 1 Henman told Eurosport.
“But I loved her competitive spirit. I thought she did absolutely brilliantly to come through the match against Stephens, and I'm sure that would have given her a big boost of confidence just to get that match under her belt, but then she had another spanner in the works with blisters on her hands [against Kovinic].
‘The key word is patience!’ – Henman on the road ahead for Raducanu
“So it’s been hard, but I love her attitude. I love her work ethic. There are going to be lots of opportunities ahead for Raducanu.
“I think it's a similar conversation with a lot of young players like Jannik Sinner or Carlos Alcaraz. We need to be patient.
“Emma is the least experienced of all these players, she's barely played a handful of professional tournaments and is only in her third Grand Slam.
“Yes, she's already won one, but she certainly needs time to develop and learn her trade and improve all aspects of a game and if she does that, then sure she's going to win many more big titles in the future.”
Raducanu said after exiting the Australian Open that she plans to work on her fitness over the next few weeks after her pre-season was disrupted by catching Covid.
'A positive experience' - Konta evaluates Raducanu's debut campaign at Australian Open
She may then turn her attentions to tournaments in the Middle East before focusing on WTA 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami in March.
It will then be time for the British No. 1 to look ahead to the clay season for the first time on the WTA Tour.
“I think there will be less pressure and expectation,” said Henman.
“Raducanu has played so little tennis on clay in her career let alone on the main tour. So that is going to be another massive steep learning curve - and again it seems acceptable to give her more time to learn on clay.
“Given her performances on other surfaces, people are less inclined to give her time elsewhere, but the reality is, she's so inexperienced, so I think for me, certainly over the next 12 months, the key word is going to be patience.
“There's going to be highs and lows, there's going to be bumps in the road but I know with her tennis ability and how athletic she is and how hard she trains, as well as her mental toughness and resilience, she's going to be absolutely fine.”
Raducanu is yet to play on clay on the WTA Tour and will have plenty of opportunities to build up points towards her ranking total.
Henman thinks the clay season represents a “great” chance for Raducanu to keep developing and improving her game.
“I think the most difficult aspects of clay court tennis when you don't have the experience is the movement and sliding in and out of shots and really learning the movement, which is absolutely critical on clay.
“That will take time but when you look at her athletic ability her balance her speed of movement, there's no reason why she can't do that well. When you look at a baseline game which is going to be the nuts and bolts of clay court tennis she's so solid on both wings she can generate power.
“So it will be a great opportunity for her to keep developing and irrespective of the results whether she gets wins on clay I don't think that really matters an enormous amount because that foundation work you put in on the clay over those months in Europe leading up to Roland Garros will pay off on other surfaces.
“There are great opportunities ahead for Raducanu in 2022.”
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Stream the 2022 Australian Open live and on-demand on discovery+. A subscription for discovery+ is now £29.99 for the first year for UK users, down from £59.99.