Raducanu ‘played scared’ after US Open as Brit can challenge Gauff

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Emma Raducanu has been told that she will be able to return to the top 10 and compete with the likes of Coco Gauff. The current world No 72 appears to be finding her form after a year of injury woes and early losses, reaching the last 16 in Indian Wells. 

Raducanu has found some form of late, winning three successive matches for the first time since September. The world No 72 had been sidelined since January but made a triumphant return in Indian Wells where she reached the fourth round, beating two top 20 seeds en route.

Now that she is showing glimpses of the game that won her the 2021 US Open as a teenage qualifier, tennis legend Chris Evert has tipped Raducanu to return to the top of the game. “I am very happy to see Emma doing well,” the 18-time Grand Slam champion told Eurosport.

“She had a tough go after she won the US Open and I don’t think she really knew what hit her after a while.” The former world No 1 admitted that she thought the extra pressure and attention after Raducanu’s unprecedented Grand Slam win made her play “scared” – something that disappeared in Indian Wells.

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“Everybody was really gunning for her and she played scared a little bit,” Evert continued. “I liked how aggressive and bold she was at Indian Wells. She was hitting out on the ball and not afraid to go for her shot. She was really going for her shots and matching the power of some very powerful players.”

Evert thought that Raducanu was finally in an upswing after a tough first season on the tour and backed her to push through the injury woes she has faced in the last 15 months. She added: “I think there’s been enough time since the US Open where she can take a deep breath now and say, ’okay, that was then, this is now, and this is what I need to do and not be emotional about it’ and not let the pressure get to her.

“Now she’s starting from down here, and she has only one place to go, and that’s up. I think she has such good technique under pressure. Her game won’t break down like maybe other players might under pressure. She’s very solid and very concise and moves well and plays athletic tennis.”

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As well as tipping the 20-year-old for a better season, Evert predicted that Raducanu would eventually be able to return to the world’s top 10 and challenge her higher-ranked peers. “So I think she’s going to have a much better year than she had last year,” she said.

“She’s injury prone a little bit, but I think deep down, she will find that mental toughness that she had at the US Open. People didn’t realise she really didn’t beat any top, top players there. But I think the mental part and the physical part go hand in hand.”

Rubbishing the idea that Raducanu’s US Open win was a one-off, Evert concluded: “I think the mental part is just as important, if not more important, than the physical part. I think I see a little more determination in her eyes, and I know she’s not a flash in the pan. I think she is here to stay and here to compete with Coco and the top players. She’s definitely going to be a top 10 player.”

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