Emma Raducanu during her match against Elena Rybakina at the Sydney tennis classic / Picture Credit: James Gourley/AAP/PA Images
Emma Raducanu during her match against Elena Rybakina at the Sydney tennis classic / Picture Credit: James Gourley/AAP/PA Images

Emma Raducanu is THE name in tennis at the moment - well apart from Novak Djokovic but that’s for different reasons altogether.

The Australian Open gets underway in just a few days’ time as the first matches start from January 17 and it’ll be Raducanu’s eighth professional tournament.

2022 will be the first full year for the 19-year-old on the WTA Tour and it hasn’t got off to a flying start so far.

After pulling out of the Melbourne Summer Set last week, as she wanted to catch up on the training she missed while she was isolating with Covid-19, her first competition of the year was going to be in Sydney.

The British sensation was up against Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan in her opening tie at the Sydney Tennis Classic yesterday, but she was thrashed 6-0, 6-1 – winning only one game to avoid a double bagel (6-0, 6-0).

It should be noted that Raducanu was only informed of who she’d be facing on Sunday after her original opponent, Iga Swiatek, pulled out of the tournament to gain more recovery time for the Australian Open after she’d just competed in the Adelaide International.

Rybakina was also fresh from the competition in Adelaide and was full of momentum as she managed to make it to the final but was beaten by world No 1 Australian Ashleigh Barty.

Her stint in the tournament was either going to tire her out or give her a confidence boost, and unfortunately for Raducanu it did the latter which meant the British No 1 crashed out of the competition and has no more competitive games before the first round of the season opening Grand Slam.

A lot of pressure has been put on the girl from Bromley over the past six months following her appearance at Wimbledon where she had to retire from her fourth-round match which caused a stir with some and then her incredible win at the US Open in September.

Now, with her new coach Torbin Beltz in tow, there is an expectation for her to build on last season and do even better – but is that realistic?

A 19-year-old who was sitting her A-Levels last year is now expected to just go and win another Grand Slam or two or she’ll be deemed as a failure when in fact winning a major tournament doesn’t just happen, it takes dedication and commitment.

But as mentioned earlier, Raducanu is going to be playing on the WTA Tour regularly this season, something which she wasn’t doing last year, therefore the Grand Slam wins might have to be put on hold until she further develops her game and herself – but that doesn’t mean she’ll be a failure.

Raducanu is doing just fine as she is – she may have lost her first match of the season but how can we judge her based on 56 minutes of game time alone?

Watch the rest of the season and watch this space, because Raducanu isn’t going away.

Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.

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