Tim Henman has urged Emma Raducanu to be patient after she won only one game in her first 2022 season match. In the first round of the Sydney International on Tuesday, British number one was summarily beaten by Elena Rybakina.
Disappointingly, Raducanu has won two matches and lost four since winning the US Open in spectacular fashion in September. She has also acquired a new coach, Torben Beltz, and her season has been thrown off after she tested positive for COVID-19.
Henman claims Raducanu is playing “catch-up” this month but is not “any way concerned as to where she’s at right now”.
The former British number one Henman said: “She had a tough end to last year, she had Covid, she had to quarantine for 10 days, then when she came out she wasn’t really able to get started with training.
“Then she flies to Australia, the jet lag, and the practice and she’s just trying to build from that. I think it’s important that everyone manages expectations. It’s a long year, she’s got a lot of great opportunities, and form’s temporary, class is permanent.
“She’s just trying to build, get more and more matches under her belt. We’ve seen what she’s capable of, so just need to stay patient, keep working hard and the good results will follow.”
This season will be Raducanu’s first full year on the WTA Tour, and she was competing in only her eighth WTA-level main draw of her career in Sydney. After losing to Rybakina, she stated that one of her aims for the year is to “not to get too down or too high” and to “keep a steady progress.”
Raducanu, according to Henman, may still have a lot of growing to do over the next two years: “I reflect on some of the other players like when you look at Coco Gauff or Jannik Sinner, it takes time, they’re enormous talents but you’ve got to be able to let them develop.
“When you see someone like Sinner, you see how well he played at the Tour Finals, he’s knocking on the door of the top 10, establishing himself, now we can see where he’s at. Emma’s played seven or eight tournaments in her professional career, she just needs a little bit of time.
“She’s slightly doing it back to front. She’s played in two Slams, and she won one of them. It’s crazy how quickly it’s all happened. There’ll be lots of people who will be impatient and expect things to turn and change overnight, but I’m not one of them.”
Raducanu will be one of the top 20 seeds when the Australian Open draw is made on Thursday. After parting ways with old coach Andrew Richardson after winning the US Open, the British number one will have new coach Beltz in her box for the first time at a Grand Slam.