Osaka, Raducanu kick off summer hard-court swings

05 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
Osaka, Raducanu kick off summer hard-court swings Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu are looking to put the starts of their seasons behind them

eBusiness Weekly

Under normal circumstances, the summer hard-court swing would be looked at as a time to shine for Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu, given that they’ve won three of the past four US Open titles.

But as they prepare to take the court at tournaments in San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C., respectively, that’s far from the case.

Unsettled coaching situations. Off-court demands. Unexpected health issues. All of it has made for some rather interesting moments of late for two of the most popular female athletes in the world.

With the year’s final Grand Slam tournament right around the corner, will Osaka and Raducanu be able to dispel any doubts about their prospects ahead?

Osaka will be kicking off her North American campaign against Zheng Qinwen, the Chinese teen who made her move up the rankings after a strong run at Roland Garros.

Osaka fell in the first round there, then was forced to the sidelines due to an Achilles injury that kept her off the grass.

Before Europe, though, it seemed as the disappointment of an third-round loss at the Australian Open, where she was the defending champion, was behind her.

In Miami, with her ranking at its lowest point in several years, Osaka defeated three seeds on her way to the final — her first championship match in more than a year.

Even though Iga Swiatek topped her by a lopsided 6-4, 6-0 score, it appeared brighter things were in store for the former world No. 1, especially after stating she was more eager to make an impact on the clay and grass courts.

Osaka didn’t get the chance to take on that stretch in full health, but now she’s back on her best surface.

However, she’ll be playing without a constant in her corner for the past couple of years, as she and coach Wim Fissette — who helped her win three majors — have amicably gone their separate ways.

Osaka will have a familiar face helping her out this week, though, as her father takes on the coaching reins. It’s a situation she said she was comfortable with in a WTA interview, and she appears to be in a good head space, which is a key component of her game—as much as her booming serve and groundstrokes.

Overcoming the rust that comes from being away from competition will be crucial in the weeks ahead.

For Raducanu, the past year has primarily been about adjusting to life as a top draw and visible public figure.

She’s the second seed at the Citi Open and opens up play against Louisa Chirico.

Despite her Top 10 ranking, every match at this point is a test in some way for the Brit, and this one has the potential to be tricky.

The American had to go through the qualifying rounds to make the main draw and will enter their contest a little more adjusted to the playing conditions of the tournament. She’ll also have nothing to lose.

Radacanu helped her cause somewhat by playing her first WTA Tour doubles match this week. Though she and partner Clara Tauson lost to the veterans Lucie Hradecka and Monica Niculescu, gaining reps—win or lose—is key to the 19-year-old’s development.

Steady guidance could go a long way, too. Since her surprise run to last year’s US Open title, Raducanu’s coaching situation has been in flux.

It was announced that she’d be working with Dmitry Tursunov, who helped guide Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit to career-best results. However, as soon as it started, their trial partnership is expected to end after this week. —

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