Emma Raducanu appears to be showing the strain of her tumble down the tennis rankings after a bizarre press conference at the Madrid Open in which she offered just 58 words in response to 16 questions. The 20-year-old has endured a horrible string of injuries and inconsistent form since bursting onto the scene and winning the US Open in 2021.
She is currently down at World No.85 and could drop even further, with a potential match-up with World No.1 Iga Swiatek on the cards in Madrid. Raducanu will play 73rd-ranked Viktoriya Tomova in the opening round of the WTA 1000 event, and will likely face Swiatek in the second round if she advances.
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But a loss in the first round will see Raducanu drop out of the top 100, which would mark a staggering fall from grace after she broke through for her maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows 18 months ago. The Brit became the first qualifier to win a grand slam in tennis history with her remarkable run to the US Open title, but has suffered under the weight of expectation ever since.
She was eliminated in the second round of the Australian Open in 2022 and 2023, as well as the second round of the French Open and Wimbledon last year. She was sent packing in the first round of the US Open last September while defending her title.
Amidst her struggle to recapture some of the form she showed in 2021, cracks are starting to appear. The 20-year-old produced a bizarre press conference ahead of the Madrid Open on Tuesday, which eventually led to a WTA official stepping in and cutting it short.
Responding to a question about tough draw, Raducanu said "it is what it is". And in regards to an ongoing wrist injury she simply offered "we're managing it".
Questions about her friendship with fellow British player Jodie Burrage were also met with short and terse answers, while she was also unwilling to respond to queries about her withdrawal from a Billie Jean King Cup tie against France earlier this month.
One journalist eventually asked: "You're not making this very easy. Is this deliberate that you don't want to make this too easy for us?" Raducanu simply replied "No."
An official from the WTA then called an end to the press conference, putting Raducanu and the reporters out of their misery. The Madrid Open's official website has been posting interviews with the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, but Raducanu's is nowhere to be seen.
People have treated emma disgusting just because she won a grand slam 🙄
— 2012 (@Bufferb2012) April 25, 2023
completely arrogant, maybe that's why it's not in the top 100
— de minaur (@_daydream1995) April 26, 2023
Yes we all no what the British media can be like, but this kinda of behavior can only backfire in the long run. She needs to play the game and face the heat when it’s on. Bratty behavior is not a good look and I am a big fan of hers
— ARA6 (@Selhurstfan) April 26, 2023
@EmmaRaducanu gets far too much hate (nobody innocent should get any anyway) for no reason, from both tennis “fans” and the media…
She’s already achieved more than most of us ever will😅
— a (@SRBNews247) April 25, 2023
To be fair it’s sounds like a Williams interview. Give them nothing.
— Jamie Mulherin (@jjm_1987) April 26, 2023
Chris Evert backing Emma Raducanu to bounce back
Raducanu won praise for her handling of the intense media spotlight placed on her when she burst onto the scene in 2021 and made the fourth round at her home grand slam at Wimbledon. However there has been criticism of the negative portrayal of her fall in the 18 months that have followed.
"I just think with the tabloids in England, it's brutal. I mean, they camp out at your doorstep if you're a superstar," Chris Evert told Eurosport.
However the American great is convinced that Raducanu's US Open title wasn't a flash in the pan. “I think the mental part and the physical part go hand-in-hand. I think the mental part is just as important, if not more important, than the physical part.
“I think I see a little more determination in her eyes, and I know she’s not a flash in the pan. I think she is here to stay, and she is here to compete with the top players...She’s definitely going to be a top 10 player.
“She had a tough run after she won the US Open and I don’t think she really knew what hit her after a while, and everybody was really gunning for her, and she played scared a little bit. I think there’s been enough time since the US Open where she can take a deep breath now and she can say that was then, this is now, and this is what I need to do."
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