EMMA RADUCANU admits her Australian Open preparations have been wrecked by contracting Covid.
Raducanu is set to compete in her first Grand Slam since winning the US OpenCredit: The Mega Agency
The lack of training has had a massive impact and the 19-year-old was smashed 6-0 6-1 by Elena Rybakina last week in Sydney in her first match of the new season.
She accepts the limited prep has been “far from ideal” but she hopes to have a free swing against American Sloane Stephens in the first round on Tuesday.
Raducanu said: “It’s a challenge to try and find the balance of wanting to get out there and practice straight after coming out of isolation.
“If you ever do it with the hours after not doing anything for 20 days, you always start picking up small niggles.
“I’m just trying to find that balance. The first week I wasn’t able to practice so much.
“But after the match in Sydney, it was just good to see where I was at that point in time.
“Afterwards I went out to sharpen up a few things on the practice court.
“I’m actually feeling like there is progress. All I want to see is that I’m getting slightly better and I have a better feeling. I think that gradually I’m getting there.
“Because of the last few months maybe I haven’t played as much as I would have liked to and trained so much.
“I feel like there’s actually no pressure on me. I feel like I’m just happy to be here and have a swing.
“I had to jump a few hurdles to play here. I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy on the court.
“The result in Sydney was definitely a lack of practice. I’ve played maybe six, seven hours. Not many at all. But I’m currently feeling physically good.”
It is remarkable to think that during the 2021 Australian Open, Raducanu was in her bedroom swotting up on revision for her A Levels exams.
It is also remarkable to think that when Stephens, 28, won the US Open in 2017, the Kent ace was just FOURTEEN years old!
Raducanu said: “I hit with her last year actually. She is a great opponent. Obviously you don’t win a Grand Slam without being very capable.
“It’s going to be a tough match for sure. I’m going to go out there and enjoy the match because just playing in this Grand Slam, I’ve had to work so hard to be here.”
In a new Nike advert, Raducanu pokes fun at those who have questioned her various off-court commitments as she adjusts to superstardom.
England rugby head coach Eddie Jones was one who accused of her being “distracted” by commercial deals – though he later retracted those comments.
Asked if she is better equipped to deal with tennis balls and glitzy celeb balls in 2022, Raducanu smiled and said: “I think the video speaks for itself.
“That’s how I feel. That’s it, full stop.”