British No 1 Emma Raducanu is working with a new coach, her fifth in 18 months, German Sebastian Sachs, on a trial basis until the end of the year, once again.
One of my biggest goals is to – it might not come this year - but to go out on the court and not think about my fitness, not think about, Oh, like start the timer, I've got 60 minutes to finish this match. I want to be able to go out there and just focus on the tennis. I think this year I'm in a better position, but it's still going to take some time to develop fully. I think my goal in 2023 is probably to win a title. Emma Raducanu
Raducanu was watched by Sachs on Friday when she lost to World No 2 Ons Jabeur in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi, where she returned to play after a two-month pay-off due to a wrist injury that curtailed her 2022 season.
30-year old Sachs guided Belinda Bencic to Olympic gold last year in Tokyo, and has also coached former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka.
“We are trialling until the end of the year and just seeing how it goes really,” Raducanu, who is ranked 76 in the world told the BBC. “It’s been going well.
“I’ve done a week with him, so far, and, I think, he’s a really calm influence. He’s on it, switched on, and yeah, I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Raducanu’s last coach, Russian Dmitry Tursunov, decided not to continue working with the 20-year-old after the US Open in September.
Having had to pull out of both the Transylvania Open and Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup team in October due to the right wrist injury, Raducanu has spent her time building up her physical fitness with Andy Murray’s former trainer, Jez Green, before getting back on court just a week ago.
“Physically, body, injury-wise I’m good now, I’m clear,” Raducanu confirmed. “Touch wood it stays like that!”
Sachs is now charged with guiding the young Brit back up through the rankings.
While the German played college tennis in the USA at Oklahoma State University and enjoyed only a brief career on the Futures tour as a player, he has been far more successful as a coach.
In November 2012 he was ranked 1052 in singles and gave up hopes of a career as a player, opting to help Julia Goerges, who made the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2018.
That same year, Sachs helped Goerges crack the world’s top 10 for the first time in her career and win the Luxembourg Open.
He also worked briefly with Azarenka, a two-time major winner, before guiding Bencic to gold at the Olympics last summer, with the Swiss then rising into the world’s top 10.
Interestingly, Bencic is now coached by Tursunov.
Sachs is Raducanu’s fifth coach in the last 18 months, with the Brit having worked with Tursunov and Torben Beltz in 2022, and previously with Andrew Richardson and Nigel Sears.
Richardson saw her win the US Open title in New York in 2021 as qualifier, and without dropping a set in her 10 matches, but she chose to part ways with him soon after, citing a desire to be coached by someone with more ‘Tour level’ experience.
Raducanu now is looking forward to kicking off her 2023 campaign at the WTA event in Auckland, before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
Before that, though, she plans to attend the World Cup final between Argentina and France in Doha on Sunday before flying to Singapore to resume her preseason training.
“I really worked on my fitness the last two months, less on the tennis court,” she said. “So I’m just trying to get my feeling on the court, but today [against Jabeur] was a pretty positive step in seeing where I’m at, and what I can do better. But physically I feel pretty good.”
Raducanu added that she had a tendency to spend too many hours on the court, and believes she has to be smarter about not overextending herself during this next coming phase of her career.
“I really, obviously, want to work hard, try to get back on court as much as possible, but I could overdo it if I didn’t really think it through, because I want to be back on court so much.
“I just need to, maybe, cut down a little bit on the hours sometimes.”
Raducanu, who started 2022 ranked 18 in the world after her historic US Open title run, and reached a career high of 10, had to deal with a host of injuries this year.
“One of my biggest goals is to – it might not come this year – but to go out on the court and not think about my fitness, not think about, Oh, like start the timer, I’ve got 60 minutes to finish this match,” she added.
“I want to be able to go out there and just focus on the tennis. I think this year I’m in a better position, but it’s still going to take some time to develop fully.
“I think my goal in 2023 is probably to win a title.”
Getting over her growing pains on tour is her main objective, though, and she will try to regain her place in the world Top 10 as well as living up to the reputation she built with her US Open victory.
“For next season I’m aiming to start again, and try to learn from the lessons of last year,” Raducanu told reporters ahead of her match against Jabeur. “I don’t think it will necessarily be smooth-sailing, but I’ll be more prepared, and have a better idea of what to expect at each event.
“Just how taxing the season is physically, I think, I’ve put in good preparation, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that holds me for the next year.
“For me, now, it’s all about increasing my hours on the court because that is something I am quite light on. Physically, though, I am in a better place.
“Getting a sense of competition and being able to have a match before the new season starts is really important, and I’ll be able to improve from there, and see where I am competitively,” she added.
“It’s been a while since the last tournament, so just putting more time on the tennis court. I’m looking forward to playing this event.”
Her narrow 5-7 6-3 [10-8] loss to Jabeur in Abu Dhabi augurs well for her return to the WTA Tour in Auckland where she will play the ASB Classic, joining 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, the top seed at the WTA 250 event, Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova (by special ranking), 2016 Champion Sloane Stephens, and Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the draw.
The event returns to the calendar after a two-year absence on 2 January, with 15-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova and 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin granted wild-cards also in the line-up. Brenda will join her older sister Linda, who earned direct entry in the main draw.
Meanwhile, Raducanu has topped the Google search listing for British women’s sports stars, as well as coming third in the overall standings of media mentions.
With an average monthly search volume of 1,830,000, a recent study conducted by sport retailer Runners Need on the gender gap in media coverage found she is third in the overall list of media coverage for active British sports stars.
The research on the media and social media coverage on the UK’s top performing men’s and women’s sports stars was done over a six-month period from April to October 2022, and found that, on average, top women’s sports players receive 3.6x times less coverage than their male counterparts.
England football captain Harry Kane topped the list with about 178,000 mentions, but his positive-negative sentiment ratio was 55.2% (positive) to 44.8%, while only 3% of his mentions were high profile.
Cricket captain Ben Stokes was a distant second with 78,514 mentions and 70.4% of his mentions were positive with 5% high-profile.
Raducanu was the best performing woman as she came in third with 59,740 mentions. Her positive-negative sentiment ratio was 66% to 34% with 6% of all mentions high-profile.
The former World No 10 was also the top tennis player, as British men’s No 1 Cameron Norrie received 40,523 mentions with his positive sentiment ratio 77%.
August saw Raducanu’s monthly Google search volume reaching 2,740,000 – the highest figure of a single sportsperson in the study – as it coincided with her US Open title defence coming to an end in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
Her best month for media mentions was also August, when she received 22,918 mentions, with Norrie second with 18,596 mentions in July when he reached the semi-final of Wimbledon.