WASHINGTON, September 25, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
What was supposed to be a Lawn Tennis Association youth event at the National Tennis Centre in London to fete recent British successes at this month’s US Open, featuring women’s champion Emma Radacanu, men’s doubles and mixed doubles titlist Joe Salisbury and wheelchair Grand Slam champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, was just that – and more.
The Friday LTA homecoming soirée also included a visit by the Duchess of Cambridge. She played some doubles with the British No. 1 Raducanu, whose ranking skyrocketed to No. 23 after winning her first major title. (She is currently ranked No. 22 this week.)
However, there was a bit of bombshell dropped by the 18-year-old British teenager that drew everyone’s attention: She’s looking for a new coach.
— Emma Raducanu (@EmmaRaducanu) September 24, 2021
Raducanu said she has already split from coach Andrew Richardson, who guided her temporarily through winning the US Open title – the first British woman to win a Grand Slam in 44 years. Raducanu indicated she’s looking for someone with more tour level experience.
“At this stage of my career, I really need someone that has had that WTA Tour experience at that high level,” she said, quoted by the BBC. “Especially right now as I’m so new to it, I think I really need someone just to guide me who has already been through that themselves.
“Never did I even dream of winning the US Open and now I’m ranked 22 in the world, which is pretty crazy to me.”
— LTA (@the_LTA) September 24, 2021
One name that comes to mind – who might be available and could be a good fit – is Darren Cahill. The Aussie amicably split with former World No. 1 Simona Halep earlier this week after working on and off with the two-time Grand Slam champion for six years. Another who might be a good fit is former British great Tim Henman, who currently is a BBC-TV and Amazon Prime Video tennis analyst. He mentored Raducanu during her recent New York run of success. For now, Raducanu isn’t in any hurry to name a new coach and may just travel with hitting partners for the remainder of the season.
Looking ahead, Raducanu is likely to be given a wild card into next month’s WTA 1000 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., and plans to play in the WTA 500 VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow mid October.
Raducanu drew headlines earlier this summer by reaching the round of 16 at Wimbledon in her first major. Then, after dropping down to play some lower-rung tournaments in the U.S., qualified for the US Open and promptly won it all – a total of 10 straight victories en route to capturing the title, which was also her first WTA tour title.
While home this week, Raducanu, who is an LTA Youth Ambassador, visited her former primary school in Bromley in order to inspire more youth to play tennis. “Being back here does make me want to do more because seeing their inspired and excited faces when I walk in spurs me on,” she said, quoted by The Daily Mail. “I can’t let them down and I want to keep pushing on in my own career. Hopefully, they can get into tennis as well if they watch me.”
“Really good to see all of the coverage Raducanu and the other US Open champs are receiving. I just hope there is a grassroots plan in the works to capitalize on this exposure to match the media coverage.”
– Liam Broady, 27, currently ranked World No. 139 and No. 5 in Great Britain.
J&T Banka Ostrava Open: Sakkari reaches sixth semifinal of season
World No. 12 Maria Sakkari began the day by reaching her sixth semifinal of the season with her 7-5, 6-3 victory over 61st-ranked wild card Tereza Martincova, one of two Czechs who reached the quarterfinal round along with Petra Kvitova.
The fourth seed from Greece, who was a semifinalist in two of the four majors this year, hit 22 winners and broke her opponent’s serve four times during the one hour and 36-minute win.
Next, Sakkari will oppose top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, who advanced on her third match-point opportunity over No. 7 seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan, 7-6 (5), 6-2, in Saturday’s semifinals with the hope of gaining her first final of 2021. Meanwhile, the World No. 6 Swiatek is into her first final since winning Rome in May.
The No.1️⃣ seed prevails! 👏
— wta (@WTA) September 24, 2021
“I lost against [Maria] already this year, so I think I can play her without any expectations,” Swiatek said of her French Open quarterfinal loss to Sakkari. “She’s a fighter. For sure, it’s going to be tough. … Whoever can be most focused and aggressive is going to win. I know what I didn’t wrong [against her] in the French Open. I’m not going to make the same mistakes.”
Also, advancing to Saturday’s semifinals were: No. 2 seed Kvitova, who reached her third semifinal of the season with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 42 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland in back of 24 winners; and No. 30 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who upset No. 3 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, ranked 11th, 6-4, 6-3, to reach her fourth semifinal this season. She did so with 29 winners and three breaks of Bencic’s serve.