Raducanu stirs a tennis revolution in Britain | Sunday Observer

Raducanu stirs a tennis revolution in Britain

10 October, 2021
Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu

Andy Murray has praised Emma Raducanu’s rapid rise to the top of tennis, crediting her intelligence as a potential factor behind her historic US Open win.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray and 18-year-old Raducanu are contesting the Indian Wells.

The tennis world has attempted to decode Raducanu’s secret to success, with many putting her win down to her ability to learn quickly. Murray, who previously played with Raducanu at the Battle of the Brits in July 2020, said he would not be surprised if that was the case.

“Often what separates the elite athletes from that level just below is that ability to learn quickly and process information,” Murray said. “Not everyone can do that. Often though the top players and really elite athletes are able to do that.

“I haven’t spent lots of time on a tennis court with her. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me either if she picked things up extremely quickly... She is obviously a very smart woman as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.”

Along with her on-court heroics this summer, Raducanu also scored an A-star and A in her maths and economics A Levels, and has since spoken about her interest in potentially pursuing a degree in economics.

During the US Open she said being “mentally quite sharp” was one of her “strengths”, and will no doubt take that into her second round match at Indian Wells, after receiving a first-round bye due to her top 32 ranking. Murray and Raducanu were both confirmed for Friday’s night session, meaning they will play in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Murray made his first appearance at the California event since 2017. He added on Raducanu that the tour shutdown due to the pandemic may well have benefitted the youngster’s development.

“The last 18 months... she didn’t compete a whole lot,” he said. “Usually around that age of 17 or 18, they are competing a lot, they are on the junior tour before drip-feeding into the senior tournaments. Maybe that period there gave her an opportunity to fix some slight technical issues, she seemed to have improved her serve and her forehand.”

Raducanu’s exploits in New York captured the attention of the nation as 9.2 million tuned into Channel 4 to see her become Britain’s first female major champion since 1977. On Saturday the government announced a £30 million fund to capitalise on her success, pledging to revamp public tennis courts across the country in an attempt to improve participation across more diverse communities. The Lawn Tennis Association contributed £8.4m to the investment, in plans to refurbish more than 4,500 courts.

Murray has been critical of previous efforts by the LTA to shine a spotlight on the sport, last month urging the governing body to take the “huge opportunity” Raducanu’s win had created. On Wednesday he was full of praise for the new plans though, revealing he played a part behind the scenes.

“It’s very positive. I knew that they were going to the government to try to get some money to refurbish a lot of the park courts, I recorded a little video for it,” Murray said. “It’s great for tennis anyway if the governments supports this. I have spoken about the importance of capitalising on the success of what Emma has done and will likely do in the future.

“We have quite a lot of tennis courts round the country. There are certain areas where we can do with maybe a few more indoor courts, certainly up in Scotland. A lot of those public courts are in pretty bad condition from what I have seen. I saw a post online a few weeks ago about some park courts that had grass growing up to your knees. Clearly it is something that needs to be done and needs to be invested in – and hopefully that makes tennis more accessible for people to play.”

Meanwhile, fellow teen sensation Coco Gauff urged Raducanu to “set time away from the phone” as the frenzy of social media interest may be “overwhelming”.

(The Telegraph)

Andy Murray