When the game of tennis becomes a waiting game for Emma Raducanu

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 at 08:42
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As the days tick down towards Roland Garros, Emma Raducanu's chances of making it to the French Open hinge on an important few days ahead. With qualifying set to take place next week and the Brit seemingly assuring herself at least of playing by signing up for Strasbourg.
But what is the likely route for the Brit and what lesson could be learned in the future in order to avoid this happening again. For the former US Open champion who has had rely mostly on wildcards and withdrawals to get into tournaments.

Which players are most likely to withdraw from Roland Garros?

Raducanu needs four more withdrawals before the Main Draw kicks off. There are a multitude of top names who in reality may not play at the French Open given their recent withdrawals from other tournaments.
The main two are Jessica Pegula and Karolina Pliskova who are both unlikely to play at this point. Pegula has already stated as such on social media by saying that she wasn't playing Rome and possibly not Roland Garros. Aside from the fact that she is also signed up to play Strasbourg next week which is presumably off the cards.
Pliskova ironically should've faced Raducanu in her last tournament at the Madrid Open. But she withdrew allowing the Brit a route through before she was hammered by Maria Lourdes Carle. She last played prior to that in Rouen. But she has been fairly stop start with injury issues. Winning in Cluj-Napoca earlier this season breathed new life into the Pliskova story. But she has not built on that.
Others who could yet decide against playing include Marie Bouzkova and Tamara Korpatsch who are both entered. But they didn't play Madrid or Rome for instance. Bianca Andreescu also could be seen as a doubt. The Canadian former US Open champion has entered. But will likely test out whether she can play in Rabat over the next week. Renata Zarazua, Sara Errani and Arina Rodionova all are ahead of Raducanu in the current reckoning and will get into the draw first.
Alison van Uytvanck and Jodie Burrage also. The latter just coming off surgery are also unlikely to play. But as ever, it shows a lack of forward planning realistically from Emma Raducanu and her team. With the Australian Open, it was seen as likely a one time occurrence. But five months later and it still remains as a withdrawal here and a withdrawal there needed for the Brit.

A lesson to be learnt and a grass court silver lining

Solely relying on wildcards for tournaments and big ones at that has not done a lot for her confidence on court and also her standing in the sport. Aside from a recent resurgence in Stuttgart and Billie Jean King Cup, it has been more stop start than ever for the Brit. Her refusal to play lower level is perhaps behind this. Being backed by a huge management conglomerate in IMG is perhaps more of a view of not wanting their star name playing in smaller tournaments.
Or it could be more of a decision made by Raducanu herself being wary of playing too much due to injury. Many players are losing protected rankings soon. The chase will being firmly on and the likelihood of continued wildcards will diminish. Other players such as Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki are unlikely either to even get qualifying wildcards for Roland Garros. It shows a certain sense of entitlement that these players will get into draws.
Caroline Wozniacki like Emma Raducanu shows no signs of ending wildcard snobbery.
Halep has somewhat discerned from that knowing that she likely has a more fraught road ahead. So now is trying to build herself up playing in France over the next week. But it perhaps shows a lesson that needs to be learned by players not to take their status for granted. Especially when many tournaments do it the old fashioned way of using the top players from that nation.
Raducanu's main saving grace comes from next up in the calendar is the grass court season. She won't be short of offers to play in England with tournaments such as Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne all likely courting her. Similar to Katie Boulter, it will likely be expected that she will play most tournaments. A wildcard at Wimbledon is unlikely to be a problem. So in reality, that will predicate this need to hunt for wildcards due to a likely ranking rise. But perhaps a decision not to play lower level is now biting Raducanu firmly as she prepares for a nervous wait.

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