WTA

Henman urges caution with Raducanu expectations ahead of teenage star's return

By Sports Desk October 08, 2021

Emma Raducanu still has so much to improve and it is far too early to declare her a contender to win every tournament, according to Tim Henman.

The 18-year-old achieved stunning success at the US Open, winning the grand slam event as a qualifier without dropping a set.

Raducanu will play her first match since that famous Flushing Meadows triumph when she takes on Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Indian Wells Open on Friday.

The youngster has been rated as favourite to win the tournament, which is seen as one of the most prestigious outside of the four majors.

There is already talk of her qualifying for the lucrative season-ending WTA Finals and triumphing at Wimbledon next year, having burst onto the scene in 2021 by reaching round four at All England Club.

But fellow Briton Henman urged fans to show caution with what they expect from Raducanu before her first match in 27 days against seasoned pro Sasnovich.

Raducanu has regularly discussed her lack of experience at tour level while she searches for a new coach to show her the ropes and Henman did not want to entertain discussions of her winning Wimbledon in 2022.

"I think that is probably getting a little ahead of ourselves," Henman said to talkSPORT. 

"She has shown her enormous potential by what she did in New York, but she is still so young and so inexperienced. 

"She has played so few events on the tour, let alone at grand slam level. I think it’s very easy to get ahead of ourselves.

"Regarding some of the young up and coming players, to really understand where they are at and their development, for me you get a very good insight once they have played every tournament twice.

"To put it into context, she has never played the clay court swing, she’s never played Roland Garros, she has never played the Australian Open.

"Once she has played all those events twice, then we will be able to assess where her game is at.

"Right now, it is as much about the process as the outcome and keep developing her game."

Henman, though, was in no doubt that Raducanu is a prodigious talent.

He added: "What is exciting is that she can improve in so many areas. 

"It is easy to focus on her tennis game, but she can get fitter, stronger, faster and gain experience playing at the highest level and continue improving her tennis game.

"If she does that then I think she will go on and win more tournaments in the future.

"It was a privilege to be on the side of the court for all her main draw matches and just see the quality of her tennis at close quarters.

"Her resilience mentally, her composure and the consistency was incredible. To win 20 straight sets to qualify and win a grand slam is unprecedented in our sport, it was a real pleasure to watch."

While Raducanu received a first-round bye, Sasnovich had an easy opener as she beat Maria Camila Osorio Serrano in straight sets.

The Belarusian has never won a WTA Tour event or reached the last eight of a major.

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