Emma Raducanu has been encouraged to look to fellow young British star Jack Draper as she plots her return from three surgeries. Draper is just 13 months older than the 2021 US Open champion and he has had his fair share of injury setbacks, even missing this year’s grass-court season. And Tim Henman would like to see Raducanu follow the world No 61 in building up her physicality to try and eliminate the threat of injuries.
Raducanu’s season was snuffed out early on as a result of injuries, as she played her last match in April and underwent surgeries on both of her wrists and her ankle in May. The former world No 10 has since been forced to pull out of the upcoming MGM Macau Tennis Masters where she was set to play an exhibition match on the first weekend of December.
She is still hoping to return at the start of the 2024 season but has not committed to a specific comeback date or tournament and is yet to start building up a team ahead of her eventual comeback. As Raducanu continues to train at the National Tennis Centre, Tim Henman has urged her to focus on building her physical side as Draper had done.
“It is above all about the physical side and building the resilience to stand up to the demands of the tour week in, week out,” the retired former world No 4 told the Daily Mail. “She has always been different with coaches and some people like to do things differently in an individual sport. I have absolutely no doubts about her tennis ability, but it’s the physical side and building that base around you.”
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Henman was courtside throughout Raducanu’s historic run to the title at the 2021 US Open through his role as a Prime Video pundit. It has also since emerged that he played a role in helping her at the tournament. And Henman is trying to do the same again, looking to Draper as an example for the former world No 1.
He continued: “It is the fundamental requirement in the modern game and she needs to be using this time to create that. Jack Draper has realised the importance of this and you are seeing him reap the benefits. Perhaps she needs to look at what Jack has been doing. Everyone wants her to succeed and you just hope she will make the right choices to achieve what she is capable of. Emma should take her time.”
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Coincidentally, Draper has started working with Raducanu’s old physio Will Herbert in recent months. The British No 5 – who turns 22 next month – has plenty of experience when it comes to physical setbacks. This year alone he started cramping at the Australian Open, retired with an abdominal injury while facing Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells, and picked up a shoulder injury at the French Open.
It led to another retirement for the 21-year-old, who was then forced to miss the entire grass-court swing – including his home Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon. But he has enjoyed a successful return, recently winning the Bergamo Challenger and following it up by reaching his maiden ATP Tour final in Sofia. And his comeback path could serve as an example for Raducanu as she continues to train in hopes of returning next season.
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