Emma Raducanu could make drastic decision to solve schedule struggles after Doha defeat | Tennis | Sport

Raducanu received a wildcard into the WTA 1000 Doha and suffered a first-round defeat for the first time this year, going out to world No. 30 Anhelina Kalinina 6-0 7-6(6). Straight after the match, a disheartened Raducanu told Sky Sports: “I think I was struggling with everything like serve, return, forehand, backhand.”

The world No. 262 came to Doha after reaching the second round in Abu Dhabi a week earlier and confessed that it was difficult to adjust to the demands of the pro circuit. “I think that it’s hard for me to get used to the tour schedule I’d say, It’s just like tournament back tournament straightaway,” she added. “So I think that I need to kind of schedule my tournaments a little bit better as well as trying to get more matches under my belt.”

Raducanu also said she would be going home instead of asking for a wildcard into next week’s WTA 1000 in Dubai. And the former world No. 10 could now consider dropping down to smaller WTA 125k tournament and even ITF events if she wants to get used to the demands of playing week-in, week-out.

There’s no denying that the 21-year-old has already proven she can challenge some of the world’s best players again. Since making her comeback in January, she has already beaten a top 40 player in Marie Bouzkova. But by playing higher-level 1000 and 500-point tournaments, it’s been difficult for Raducanu to go deep.

So far, the 2021 US Open champion has not been beyond the second round at any event. A tournament with a field of lower-ranked players could serve as an opportunity to play three or four matches in a single week and learn to recover in between. It’s something that Raducanu herself has not ruled out.

“I really believe that the level in these ‘lower-level tournaments’ and these tournaments is really not that big. Because you gain so many skills, you’re playing in these conditions, the wind,” she said after losing to Wang Yafan at the Australian Open. “Here was a prime example. 

“My opponent played a lot of ITF and got a lot of matches under her belt, but the level really isn’t that different. I would play whatever suits my schedule, whatever suits the plan.” It remains to be seen how Raducanu shapes her schedule in the coming weeks, but she could request wildcards for the WTA 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami.

If she loses early in Indian Wells, there is a WTA 125k tournament taking place in Charleston that would be an option to have some extra matches before Miami. Depending on how low Raducanu would be willing to drop, the ITF W50 in Macon, France on the week of February 26 could be a relatively easy trip from her training base in London. 

Getting used to longer spells in tournaments may well be the final piece of the puzzle for Raducanu to rediscover her winning ways from the 2021 US Open. Since then, the Brit has only won three matches in a row at two separate tournaments.

Injuries have also robbed her of the chance to experience a full year on the tennis circuit. Raducanu already has the game and the results won’t be important, as she just needs to adjust to playing back-to-back almost every week and having more match experience to rely on in tricky situations.

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