Andy Murray praises 'well grounded' Emma Raducanu, Rafael Nadal's Australian Open doubts - MWTC Diary
"There will be certain stages in her career, certainly around Wimbledon and the grass-court season where the expectations are extremely high," Andy Murray told Eurosport about fellow Brit Emma Raducanu. "There'll be a lot of pressure there. I know that that's obviously something that's difficult to deal with. I'm sure she'll be able to deal with it, but it's not easy."
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Asked if he acknowledges his new position as a top-five player posing a challenge to veterans like Nadal and Murray, Rublev laughed and quickly dismissed the notion that he is in any way superior to these major champions.
“This is a bit illusions because they know how is the real situation,” the 24-year-old said with a chuckle.
“They can say that, ‘No, we’re playing against top guys’, but they know that they are top, it doesn’t matter if they’re not playing tennis for one year and the ranking dropped, they know they’re the top ones, I don’t believe this.
“But of course for sure they’re taking players like me or other ones seriously because we’re improving and we’re playing better and better and many guys like Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas, they proved already that they can win big tournaments, they can beat top players and of course they’re taking them, and I hope me as well, really seriously if they have to play against us.
“But like I said, they know who is the leader, who’s the father.”
Fathers of tennis; that’s a first!
Rafa unsure about Australia
Nadal’s comeback from a four-month injury layoff ended in two defeats to Murray and Denis Shapovalov in Abu Dhabi, but the Spaniard deemed his return to the court a positive one and will now deliberate with his team on the best scenario moving forward.
Motivated to head down to Australia and compete in an ATP 250 event in Melbourne prior to the Australian Open, Nadal admits he has a long road ahead of him and is not certain he’ll make the trip Down Under.
“I need to speak with my team. Being 100 percent honest, I can’t guarantee 100 percent,” he said on Saturday.
The idea is to go there and try my best there in Australia, that’s the goal and that’s my idea. But we need to come back, see how the body feels after these couple of days then that’ll be the time to make decisions. I go day by day at this moment of my career and after all the things that I went through, I need to think very well of every movement.
The 35-year-old has struggled with a recurring foot problem since his Roland Garros semi-final exit in June. He briefly returned to action on hard courts in Washington DC in August, but he pulled the plug on his season after two matches contested there.
“I need time honestly, it has been a long way. People think about Washington maybe, but Washington I played two matches there with very bad conditions. After Roland Garros was a disaster in a way because my foot didn’t allow me to practice even and play the right way,” he explained.
"It’s more than six months since the last real official match. Things are difficult and I accept that.
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“Remaining a lot of things to improve, I was able to compete in both matches and even had my chances, so if we put that in perspective it’s a very positive thing.
“If I’m able to play with no limitations, I think these small things that make you lose or have more mistakes than usual because you are a little bit slower, you’re a little bit slower physically and mentally and making decisions not the right way a lot of times because remains some time, then when you make deep steps forward, the dynamic of the game changes dramatically.
“I know that because I went through this process unfortunately a lot of times in my tennis career but I need to practice and I need to be healthy enough to go through this process; if that happens, I’m confident that I will be back.”
‘Well-grounded Raducanu will be absolutely fine’
Murray joked the other day that every time he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, people mocked him for “having no personality”.
The former world No.1 tipped Emma Raducanu for the award this year, and noted how she is a “fantastic personality”.
Murray has been asked to weigh in on the pressures Raducanu will likely face in the wake of her stunning US Open triumph, as a qualifier, last September, and the three-time major champion explained why he is reluctant to talk to the press about his compatriot.
“I've spoken a little bit about Emma since the US Open and I do really want to be careful to seem to be giving her advice or my opinions on her and her career, what she should and shouldn't be doing and how she should deal with certain things,” Murray told Eurosport in Abu Dhabi.
I do feel like because she won the US Open and won a Grand Slam at 18, that for a period of time I imagine the press would be quite lenient with her, and rightly so. I mean, she's won one of the biggest events at 18 years old.
“But yeah, there will be certain stages in her career, certainly around Wimbledon and the grass-court season where the expectations are extremely high. And there'll be a lot of pressure there. I know that that's obviously something that's difficult to deal with. I'm sure she'll be able to deal with it, but it's not easy.
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“She's unbelievably well-grounded. She's very, very smart. I'm sure she'll be absolutely fine, but it's not easy. I certainly didn't have it to the degree that she's had it but when I played Wimbledon the first time I went from nobody knowing me or watching my matches to being on the front page of the newspapers and being followed around for a period of time and it's like overnight, it's kind of life-changing.
“And that's the same thing, obviously that's happened to her but on a much grander scale. So I know that that must be very difficult for her. It’s just important that you have your family and your team and everyone around you and that they're the ones that you listen, and to try your hardest to block the rest.”
‘I hope Mauresmo gets properly supported by everyone’
Murray’s former coach Amelie Mauresmo was recently named tournament director of Roland Garros, the first woman to hold that position in the French Grand Slam’s history.
When Murray hired Mauresmo in 2014, the partnership made headlines worldwide as the Frenchwoman took on such an important role with a top player.
Murray is pleased to see Mauresmo continue to break new ground for women in the sport.
“It's obviously brilliant for her,” he told Eurosport. “I'm sure she'll do a really, really good job. It just seems crazy that it's now nearly 2022 and it’s the first time that a female has been a tournament director there.
“However it's great that she now gets that opportunity. She's very well-respected in tennis certainly and tennis in France as well. I hope it goes well for her, I hope she gets properly supported by everyone. It’ll be interesting to see what she does with the role, what changes she makes.”
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