Third round would be good outcome for Raducanu in Melbourne, says Henin
16 January, 2022, 9:06 pm
(Reuters) – Winning a couple of matches at the Australian Open would be a good outcome for Britain’s teenage U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, according to former world number one Justine Henin.
The 19-year-old Raducanu shot to stardom last September when, as a qualifier, she stormed to the title at Flushing Meadows, becoming Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.
It instantly made her one of the most marketable players in women’s tennis, but her debut in the main draw at the Australian Open where she will be 17th seed is only her fourth Grand Slam tournament and her build-up has been tricky.
She was forced to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 last month and in her first match of the year she was beaten 6-0 6-1 in Sydney by Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.
Raducanu faces a testing opener in Melbourne against former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.
Henin believes her shock U.S. Open title has complicated her development and has warned against burdening the Briton with sky high expectations while she continues to develop her game.
“If she was to win two matches at the Australian Open it would be very good for her,” 2004 Australian Open champion Henin, an analyst for broadcaster Eurosport during the Melbourne fortnight, told Reuters.
“If she gets too caught up in the expectations of the people then it will be a very difficult time for a long time so she needs the right people around her.”
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Henin said she finds it hard to imagine how Raducanu has managed her incredible breakthrough.
“It is more complicated for her. I never lived this kind of situation because when I won my first Grand Slam I was already much further in my development,” the Belgian said.
“But this happened very quickly for Emma. But I was very impressed how she played at the U.S. Open. It was fresh. We needed that, a charismatic girl playing good tennis and dealing with the situation. It was unbelievable and it gave me a lot of emotions. But she couldn’t think she would have to live that at such an early stage at her career.”
Henin said the important thing was that Raducanu worked on developing her game, rather than stress over results.
“To win a Grand Slam you usually have to pass some stages and she still has to pass them,” the 39-year-old said. “What’s important is that she and her entourage keeps her feet on the ground. She still needs to develop and development takes hard work and that’s where she has to go right now.
“Winning the U.S. Open was best and the worst that could have happened to her I would say.”