British No 1 Emma Raducanu has taken on another new coach, Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, a former Top 20 ATP Tour player, who will work with the 19-year old during the North American hard-court swing, which starts in Washington DC on Monday.
You need to have the other person agree with the process, and you have to find better ways of communicating, and getting your point across. And, of course, players are quite sensitive - they're one of the best in their fields. It's about showing them they have room to improve. Dmitry Tursunov
According to a Daily Mail report, Raducanu has recruited Tursunov in the hope that he can guide her US Open title defence preparations as she returns to action next week at the WTA 250 Citi Open in Washington.
Tursunov has a reputation for practical jokes on the tour, and has had considerable success with clients on the circuit since retiring as a player in 2017.
“Sometimes I enjoy acting like an idiot, but I really know what I’m talking about, and I’m passionate about it,” he said in a recent interview.
Born in Moscow 39 years ago, Tursunov moved to the United States at the age of 12 to pursue his tennis career.
His most recent client was the current World No 2, Anett Kontaveit from Estonia, who enjoyed quite an upswing under his guidance, winning 5 WTA Tour titles while he was her coach, and rising into the Top 5 in the world, but they ended their working arrangement after this year’s French Open.
The Russian has also worked with another Top 5 player in Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, plus doubles World No 1 Elena Vesnina, and Russian Aslan Karatsev from the ATP Tour.
His coaching style is said to be forthright, but it has produced excellent results for aggressive base-liners.
Raducanu has always been happy to take advice from wide-ranging sources, but has not had a full-time coach since ending her partnership with German coach Torben Beltz in late April.
In the intervening period she has received guidance from a number of figures, such as Canadian Louis Cayer, Head of the LTA’s women’s division Iain Bates and, during Wimbledon, former LTA coach Jane O’ Donoghue.
Raducanu has struggled to find a permanent coaching set-up since her remarkable US Open win almost a year ago, something John McEnroe, a 7-time Grand Slam champion and now a television pundit, has taken issue with.
“No one wins a major if they are not a great player and, hopefully, she has belief, but a lot has changed for her since then,” he said recently. “I’m not close to her. In fact. As a matter of fact, I’ve never spoken to her.
“I hope to have the opportunity soon, because she is obviously a breath of fresh air. She is a very sweet girl, a beautiful girl, and plays great tennis. What’s not to like?
“It has been hard to watch her struggling, but I don’t know if she needs time. She needs the right stability and people around her, and I don’t know what’s going on there.
“You don’t go through a tournament where you don’t lose a single set, and beat some of the top female players, and not be a great player.”
Playing her first full year on the WTA Tour, Raducanu is making her debut in Washington before playing in Toronto and Cincinnati, where 1000 ranking points will be up for grabs at each.
That, before she plays again at the US Open, could help reclaim the 2000 ranking points she won in New York last September.
Tursunov now has the serious task of trying to help Raducanu regain the form that landed her a first Grand Slam.
She has shown only brief flashes of that form since, hindered by injuries, which have highlighted the fact that she missed out on some physical development while focussing on completing her school education.
A side strain suffered at Nottingham almost kept her out of Wimbledon where, looking under-powered, she was well beaten by France’s Caroline Garcia in the 2nd-round.
“You need to have the other person agree with the process, and you have to find better ways of communicating, and getting your point across,” Tursunov continued in his recent interview. “And, of course, players are quite sensitive – they’re one of the best in their fields.
“It’s about showing them they have room to improve.”
Adopting a low profile since Wimbledon, Raducanu has been training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, ahead of returning to the tour in Washington, where Tursunov will hope to be able to impart both his influence and wisdom.