Tennis Prose



Is Emma Burned Out At 19?

By Scoop Malinowski

Emma Raducanu pulled off possibly the greatest miracle in tennis history when she won the 2021 US Open as virtual unknown 18-year old ranked outside the top 100, beating Shelby Rogers, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, Stefanie Voegele, Shuai Zhang, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Maria Sakkari, and Leylah Fernandez in the final, as well as three rounds in the qualifying draw (Bibiane Schoofs, Mariam Bolkadze, Mayar Sherif). All in straight sets too.

But since her astonishing US Open triumph and ten-match, twenty-set win streak, the sensation of Emma Raducanu has fizzled out into ordinary almost bordering on abysmal.

Currently ranked no. 18 Emma is 2-4 since US Open including yesterday’s 60 61 loss to Elena Rybakina in Sydney.

Suddenly the wonder girl Grand Slam champion looks like a toothless tigress on the court, she tried her best vs Rybakina and competed well but she looked overpowered and outgunned. Down 60 30 Emma hit a winner and screamed and fist pumped CMONNN!!! So mentally she was in it and fighting her best but her game and her weapons are not producing the magic they did last September.

At this point after almost four months of WTA mediocrity, there has to be some confusion in the mind of the British lass. Did I overexpose? Did I do too many deals and celebrity appearances? Did I pick the wrong coach? Did I make a mistake on breaking up a winning team? Was my US Open run some kind of gift from the Gods of catching lightning in a bottle? Did I peak at 18?

No one is intimidated by Raducanu. Every opponent is highly inspired to beat the reigning US Open champion and prove to the world and to themselves that “if I can beat her, I can win Grand Slams too.” It’s not known how Emma is dealing with this unique pressure and if she herself is feeling intimidated by having to live up to constantly duplicating her US Open magic.

Make no mistake, Rybakina is no slouch. The 22-year old is ranked 13 in the world, has won two WTA titles and her WTA record is an impressive 206-97. Let’s remember, Raducanu has only played about a half dozen WTA tournaments so far.

Tennis can be a complicated mental game. And right now Emma Raducanu is in a lost mental state of mind which is malfunctioning her strokes and strategies.

Surely she will try everything possible to get back on track. But fame and fortune may have stunted her growth as a player rather than edifying it. While it’s remotely possible we have seen the very best of Emma Raducanu as a tennis player, one can never underestimate what this young marvel is capable of when she finds her groove, rhythm, confidence and proper inspiration.

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  • catherine · January 11, 2022 at 11:19 am

  • George · January 11, 2022 at 11:36 am

    Can’t blame her for taking the deals and basking in her glory: it was a Cinderella run at US Open and as a struggling player outside top 100, it would be silly not to milk it for all its worth.

    I’m less certain about her decision to replace her team. And depending on what changes they wanted her to make it may not be surprising that she’s struggling right now being kind of in-between. It may work out well for her in the end or she can lose confidence and struggle more. Time will tell.
    And you’re right: Rybakina is a great player. She has more firepower than Raducanu, and Emma was unable to control her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 11, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    Catherine, she also lost 61 62 to Kostyuk at the end of 2021. We know how tennis is, it only takes that one big win to spark a rampage and confidence. I’m almost positive Raducanu will reign supreme again but her case study is totally unique and she’s totally unpredictable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 11, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    George, no one turns down money – except Patrick Rafter who declined his six figure appearance fee in Dubai because he felt he didn’t play well enough in his first round match to accept it. True story. Raducanu has earned everything that comes her way for that miracle lighting in a bottle run last Sept. I’m also surprised Kenin has fallen so flat though she did not attract any huge sponsor deals after winning AO in 2020. IN fact Fila just dropped her and she’s now with Pironetic for $150,000. Kenin just lost 64 60 to Kasatkina yesterday. At some point if this Emma fizzle continues, she will need to go back to her original winning team IMO.

  • catherine · January 12, 2022 at 1:28 am

    Scoop – there’s misunderstanding about Emma’s ‘team’. Her original coach was and is employed by the LTA, he has a young family and no wish to travel the world. She didn’t turn her back on him – it was a mutual agreement and part of her progression to the pro game.

    People forget that this time last year she was still at school.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 8:08 am

    Catherine, that coach traveled with her to US Open and maybe the other US tournaments too. No way he was happy to be let go after US Open, not buying that. It never makes sense to break up a winning combination.

  • catherine · January 12, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Scoop – Living in England as I do, and not too far from Emma who’s my BF 🙂 I have to disagree. Her LTA coach travelled with her to the USO but there was no contract beyond that. If there had been, and he’d been dumped, believe me it would have been all over the media here and it wasn’t.

    Emma needed someone with experience of the WTA tour and Beltz, who was either let go by Kerber or jumped ship, seemed a good choice. Angie, as is usual when these things happen, isn’t saying.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 11:06 am

    Catherine, Raducanu could have lost second round of qualies. He did something right o help her win the title. Why not stick with that winning combination and try to create more magic. I find it hard to believe he told her, I don’t want to travel with and coach you anymore, I want to stay home with the wife and kids. A coach waits his whole life to coach a Grand Slam champion, only a few coaches accomplish that. Richardson should be her coach IMO. Plan B has now worked out so far.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Beltz is partly responsible for that 1 and love beatdown too.

  • catherine · January 12, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    Well, I won’t argue. But Emma wasn’t in good shape when she arrived in Aust. She’d stopped off in Abu Dhabi (thanks IMG) where she caught Covid, probably a breakthrough infection, and simply didn’t have time for preparation, mentally or physically. In contrast she reached the USO at her peak and just gathered momentum, playing well above herself. As you say, a kind of miracle.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Catherine, I think the big difference is not in her shape or form, the difference is she’s not the hunter anymore, she’s the “hunted.” She has to try to find some way to change that mindset and reverse it. Not easy but doable. I always give this example. Hewitt was no. 2 in the world playing 1R in Tokyo vs the Japanese wildcard ranked 400 in the world. First game of the match it was Hewitt roaring CMON as if he was the huge underdog. Hewitt was able to convince himself in that match and probably ever match that he was the “hunter” and not the “hunted.” I believe Raducanu just needs to change her mindset and adopt the Hewitt hunter mindset. Easier said than done as most players can’t do it.

    As you can see I don’t talk about that media flu you mentioned, no fear or respect for it. Not until the media shuts down or the tennis channel commentators start to wear masks on the air (they never will).

  • catherine · January 13, 2022 at 11:50 am

    This is the attitude Emma:

    “I just want to keep putting myself out there. Even if I keep getting knocked down, it’s just about getting back up and basically falling in front. You’re one step better and you learn more.

    “I’m just at the start of my first season. My goal is to not get too down or too high.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 13, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    Tough draw for Emma, she has to play Stevens who just got married and will be eager to put Little miss briches in her proper place.



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