Emma Raducanu creates a schedule clash that complicates her French Open hopes

Emma Raducanu creates a schedule clash that complicates her French Open hopes

Emma Raducanu looks set to miss next week’s WTA 1000 tournament in Rome, as she has opted to follow an alternative schedule ahead of the French Open.

Raducanu has enjoyed an encouraging return to form in recent weeks, with her two wins for Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup inspiring her nation to an impressive 3-1 away win against France last month.

The 2021 US Open champion backed that performance up with a fine run for the quarter-finals of the high-quality WTA 500 event in Stuttgart, where she lost to world No 1 Iga Swiatek in two tight sets.

Yet there was some concern expressed over her physical condition and motivation as Raducanu turned in a curiously muted performance as she lost 6-2 6-2 against No 82 Maria Lourdes Carle in the first round of the Madrid Open.

Playing with strapping around the front of her left knee, Raducanu made a host of unforced errors and saw her serve broken six times.

Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong is often cautious in her analysis of Raducanu’s performance, as she knows the value the 21-year-old can have to her team when she is at her best, but she was surprised by the performance of the 21-year-old in Madrid.

“Emma has to have a good talk to herself,” said Keothavong. “How much does she really want to win this? How is she going to fight and battle? It doesn’t have to be pretty tennis but she’s going to have to work a hell of a lot harder.’

“Emma is someone who likes to know the numbers, and when she looks at these stats, she won’t want to know them. 19 unforced errors, 33 per cent of points won on serve, that’s poor.

“A lot of those unforced errors coming off the forehand. In this situation, the performer needs to come out more. She needs to be more expressive.

READ MORE: Pundits give brutal assessment of Emma Raducanu’s woeful Madrid Open performance

“A lot of these points are just too quick and going the wrong way for Raducanu.

“She’s just slapping at forehands. Those last few points, they just aren’t good enough. It’s poor. You can’t emotionally check out now.”

Keothavong also floated the idea that Raducanu may now skip the rest of the clay court season after she cited fatigue as a reason for her flat display in Madrid, but it seems she is still planning to play at least one more tournament.

After missing out on a wildcard for the Italian Open that gets underway next week, Raducanu would have needed to come through qualifying to get into that tournament.

So instead, she has opted to play a WTA 500 event on clay in Strasbourg, which runs from May 18-25.

This will give Raducanu more clay court practice, but it has emerged that the Brit has also entered qualifying for the French Open, which takes place on the same week as the Strasbourg event.

Raducanu will need players to drop out of the French Open to sneak into the main draw without the need to play in qualifying, but she will have a decision to make over whether to play in Strasbourg or head to Paris if does not make the cut for the main draw.

The prospect of playing in qualifying for the first time since she came through that path to win the US Open almost three years ago may not be appealing and there would be the possibility of collecting more ranking points if she played in Strasbourg and reached the latter stages of the competition.

The ideal scenario for Raducanu will be making the cut for the French Open main draw and using the Strasbourg tournament as a warm-up for Roland Garros, but that prospect is out of her hands.

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