Emma Raducanu will have paid close attention to her footing when she strolled down Elwood Beach on Monday.
The 2021 US Open champion was dealing with a sore left ankle that she had injured four days earlier in Auckland while playing on a slippery indoor court.
It resulted in her sixth retirement since the beginning of last year, put her participation in the Australian Open in jeopardy, and dashed her enthusiasm for the new year.
Raducanu said, “We were thrown a bit of a curveball the first week.”
Although the preparation for this specific Grand Slam has been a little slender, the ankle has recovered, and optimism has also returned.
A core group is starting to take shape. Sebastian Sachs is in charge as the coach, Jez Green’s knowledge of strength and conditioning is paying off, and physio Will Herbert is showing up on tour more and more frequently.
Although Raducanu’s history with instructors has been well-documented, word in recent months has it that she is genuinely eager to form a long-term relationship with one of them.
In an interview with tennismajors.com, Dmitry Tursunov cautioned that Raducanu was consulting an excessive number of viewpoints and made the decision in October that he was not that person.
The British number one responded to the Russian’s remarks by saying, “I think that the way I’ve been brought up, I’ve always had quite a few people around me and it’s more just been me picking and choosing what I want to take and what I want to leave.”
“I believe that a contributing factor was the absence of my core, small team. I lacked the reliable setup and the staff that I truly trusted.
Therefore, I don’t think I need to consult as broadly now that I feel like I have it more than ever this year.
Sachs, who is only 30 years old and had a brief playing career on the Futures Tour, can potentially serve as a very useful hitting partner.
He has already coached Victoria Azarenka, Julia Gorges, and Belinda Bencic, who rose to become a top-10 player and an Olympic champion under his direction. He is a composed and attentive man.
We kind of build off one another’s ideas, and he’s simply a really wonderful teammate, according to Raducanu. “That seems to be going extremely well so far, and I really want it to continue and endure.”
Given the little amount of time available to fully cure that ankle during the previous week, Herbert’s healing touch will have been invaluable.
In addition, he administers Raducanu’s exercise regimen when Green is absent.
The 20-year-training old’s with the strength and conditioning coach began at the end of last year, and the trainer creates a schedule for Herbert to follow when he is absent.
Green, who was so crucial to Andy Murray’s success, has been mostly working for Dominic Thiem this year and is not in Australia.
But it’s anticipated that he will also be able to work with Raducanu for a few weeks. After the Australian Open, a plan for the year is probably going to be revealed.
In the second half of the previous season, Raducanu’s situation got better. Since Wimbledon, she has competed in 15 matches, winning eight of them, and has advanced to the semifinals in Seoul. A wrist injury, however, ended her season and kept her from contributing much on the court until the beginning of December.
Former British number one Laura Robson said last week on BBC Radio 5 Live, “You can tell she’s a lot stronger than she was this time last year.”
“The ankle improvements I have observed over the past two of days have appeared quite encouraging, but you never know if they will be sufficient if the recovery is too quick and you are preoccupied with your ankle rather than your tennis game.
“You must consider the long term. She put a lot of effort into this throughout the off-season; if it’s too soon to release it on Monday, that’s fine.”