Home » Emma Raducanu: Billie Jean King Cup skipper Anne Keothavong says British star doesn’t need to play every week

Emma Raducanu: Billie Jean King Cup skipper Anne Keothavong says British star doesn’t need to play every week

Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup skipper Anne Keothavong says Emma Raducanu doesn’t need to play every week, despite the star sitting outside the top 200 in the world.

Raducanu, currently ranked 221, has recently produced some of her best form since her victorious 2021 US Open run, winning two Billie Jean King Cup matches in Great Britain’s victory over France and following up with two victories to reach the Stuttgart quarter-finals last week.

The 21-year-old is now preparing for more clay-court action at the Madrid Open, then the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, before the start of the French Open on May 20.

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Raducanu says she feels confident about her return to the Madrid Open after a positive performance in the Billie Jean King Cup

Raducanu climbed more than 80 places in the latest rankings, but Keothavong believes Raducanu is currently happy to pick and choose tournaments.

“When you’ve had a period of time on the sidelines you soon realise how much you miss the sport and how much you want to be out there competing, and despite having nothing to defend for the rest of the year I don’t think we’re going to see her playing week in, week out for the rest of the year. She doesn’t need to,” said Keothavong.

“She already touched on the fact that ‘I don’t need matches to feel confident, I can get it from practice’ and having seen some of the sessions she’s been putting in with [coach] Nick Cavaday at the National Tennis Centre, the work she’s doing with Ian Aylward – the fitness trainer – she’s loving it.

“And also, for me, it was refreshing to hear her talk about her tennis. That week at the Billie Jean King Cup. She knew who she was playing and had tough matches ahead but [her attitude was] ‘it’s alright, I’m hitting the ball really well, I’m playing points really well. I’m going to be fine’ which is a different approach this year she’s taken – just having that inner belief in her confidence to trust herself.

“She’s a classy tennis player, she’s a smart tennis player. She’ll be able to figure it out and you’ve got to give any player you’re working with the confidence to trust your instinct. You can go out there with a strategy but the match changes. There will be ebbs and flows, you’ve got to make adjustments tactically and she’s got that.

“Trust the fact that you’re a great tennis player.”

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Raducanu’s time in Madrid last year was one of the lowest points in her career as she withdrew – after enduring a tense press conference in which she said just 58 words in response to 16 questions.

This year is already very different, with former player Naomi Broady saying the Grand Slam champion has no pressure on her for the rest of the year given she has no ranking points to defend.

“We all want a piece of Emma Raducanu,” said Broady. “What a year she’s had over the past 12 months and she mentioned that famous interview that she had and got so much stick for at the time. But there was so much going on off court and we forget that about these professional players, don’t we?

“We just see what they’re doing on the court and we forget there’s so much going on behind the scenes, but what a position to be in now for her with absolutely no points to defend going forward. That’s like the dream for any tennis player.

“Tennis is not like any other sport where you start again from scratch in January. If you have a good year the previous year then you’ve got those points to defend so if you’re not winning events then you’re dropping down in the rankings. Even a good week making semis you’re dropping if you’ve won the previous year so she has absolutely nothing to defend – therefore zero pressure for the rest of the year – and she’s clearly feeling confident.

“So managing energy levels is her biggest thing to overcome this year if she’s able to stay fit and healthy again.”

Broady added: “Last year she was kind of treading water because it was the right foot, left foot, wrist. There was so much going on and she was having to manage her practice hours. She’s a workhorse. She always puts in so many hours on the court and I think that’s why the people who know Emma’s game and know her close at hand have no doubts she can get back to the top of the game.”

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Highlights of the Stuttgart Open quarter-final between Raducanu and world No 1 Iga Swiatek

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