There was another early exit from the Australian Open for Emma Raducanu. The young Brit impressively dispatched of Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, 6-0, 2-6, 6-1 in the first round, but blisters on her racquet hand hampered her game in the second round and she was ultimately beaten in three sets by Danka Kovini?.
Being knocked out of competitions in the opening rounds has been a regular occurrence for the 19-year-old since she reached superstardom last year — first making a name for herself at Wimbledon, where breathing difficulties ended her run in the fourth round, before going on to win the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York.
Even after making the headlines for the first time in her career at the lawn tennis Grand Slam, those that bet online would have have backed Raducanu to go all the way from qualifier to winner in her next major tournament appearance on US soil.
However, that is exactly what the Londoner did stateside, becoming the first female to enter the tournament in the first round of qualifying and progress all the way to the final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium — eventually lifting the Grand Slam title after an almighty three-week slog with a straight-sets victory over Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
Given that her entire life and career changed over the course of such a short period of time, it was perhaps unrealistic for everyone to expect Raducanu to keep setting the world of tennis alight after reaching unprecedented heights at such a young age and ridiculously early stage her playing days.
Yes, her performances since that US Open triumph have been a bit underwhelming, and questions do need to be asked of her bizarre coaching decisions — getting rid of Nigel Sears after Wimbledon before opting against carrying on working with Andrew Richardson despite the fact he was by her side the whole way through her US trip and maiden Grand Slam victory.
She rounded off the 2021 season without a coach, eventually hiring Torben Beltz, who has most notably worked with former World No.1 Angelique Kerber — aiding her to impressive victories in the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open all in the same calendar year back in 2016.
You can’t blame Raducanu for taking her time to find a new coach, and she certainly didn’t jump straight into anything as she held trials with several top trainers. The teenager knows better than anyone that it is going to be a massive year for her. She will be scrutinised at every given opportunity this season, as she already has been by the likes of John McEnroe, and that is something she will unfortunately have to cope with.
The fact that her low-key training session at a small club in Singapore shortly after her Australian Open exit turned into something much larger, as fans found out she was practicing at the Tanglin Club and flocked in their dozens to get a glimpse of the US Open champion just goes to show how her stature around the world has changed in just a matter of months.
Not only does she need to adjust to the limelight, though, all aspects of her game still need a lot of work to truly get her to the level where she can compete for Grand Slams on a regular basis. We have no doubt that she will get to that stage and that more major victories will come, but for the meantime, patience is a virtue!