Pegula shares big Emma Raducanu fears and takes aim at Madrid Open chiefs

Emma Raducanu teaches tennis lesson from 4,000 miles away – via first-of-its-kind live 5G hologram

World No. 3 Jessica Pegula has warned Emma Raducanu that her long injury layoff will be “really tough mentally”. The British No. 1 announced last week she will miss the French Open and Wimbledon after undergoing surgeries on both wrists and her left ankle.

She is also set to miss the US Open before planning a return in the autumn. American Pegula, who underwent major knee and hip surgeries earlier in her career, said: “I would say definitely for me it was a time I definitely learned a lot about myself. If you want to keep playing, how hard do you want to come back, stuff like that.

“Also spending days in rehab for months on end, which she’s going to have a lot of, it’s really tough mentally. I think you just have to kind of embrace the suckiness of it because it’s not fun. Anyone that tries to tell you it’s fun, it’s not.

“You just have to kind of embrace the aspect of I’m going to grind this out. It’s not going to be the most fun, but I have to find ways to get through it and appreciate that I’m able to go through this rehab and find other ways to get better.”

Meanwhile, Pegula and Coco Gauff have slammed Madrid Open organisers after the female doubles finalists were stopped from speaking in the trophy ceremony, with a ‘sexism’ and ‘censorship’ row starting.

The decision was taken after world No. 1 Iga Swiatek publicly criticised the late finishes in the Spanish capital after losing the singles final. Andy Murray’s former doubles partner Feliciano Lopez is tournament director in the Spanish capital.

Speaking before the Rome Masters, world No. 3 Pegula revealed she has since received a letter of apology from Madrid. But the American, whose parents own the Buffalo Bills, said: “Did I think we were not going to be able to speak, no. I’ve never heard of that in my life. Even in a 10K challenger final you would speak.

“I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision or how they actually had a conversation and decided, like: ‘Wow, this is a great decision we’re going to do and there’s going to be no-backlash against this’. Everyone kind of picked up on it and was very disappointed.”

There was also controversy in Madrid over the uniforms of the ball girls – and Carlos Alcaraz getting a bigger birthday cake than Aryna Sabalenka.

Pegula added: “There seemed to be a lot of drama in Madrid this year on a variety of different things. I think there was just a buildup of a lot of tension. I wish they could have handled it in a more mature, professional way. That’s not what happened.”

Top seeds Pegula and her partner Coco Gauff lost to unseeded Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad.

French Open finalist Gauff, who has spoken out on gun control and Black Lives Matter, added: “I guess I do think the player should address the crowd, people who came and supported the event.

“But I think it was just more about the principle behind it, that in future cases, I don’t know if someone, maybe me or somebody else criticises the organisation or tournament, maybe deeper than what was said, I don’t know, maybe racism, homophobia, something like that. You can’t just cut, no speech, no nothing. You have to take those criticisms.”

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