Ever the outlier, the former US Open champion — just turned 20 — spent Christmas in Singapore before heading to Auckland for this week’s annual WTA event in New Zealand
The city-state off the Malay peninsula is not on the beaten path of tennis, but Raducanu enjoys its fusion of cultures and chose it for her first week of intensive practice with new coach Sebastian Sachs.
Emma Raducanu is dressed to thrill – but can she improve upon a difficult 2022 in the New Year?
Raducanu has undergone her first week of intensive practice with new coach Sebastian Sachs
The 30-year-old German is the latest to trial working alongside the British No 1, with a view to a permanent arrangement.
Of all the official coaching appointments made by Raducanu — and there have been five already — this may be the most important.
For it is the year when she needs to stamp an identity on her game style and make the transition into becoming a hardened professional who can challenge for the big titles.
Sachs is young but has amassed a wide range of experience with top German players and former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka. An experienced WTA coach who has been around him on the tour describes Sachs as ‘a decent guy who seems to be very thorough and knows his stuff’.
Ever the outlier, Raducanu decided not to spend pre-season in Dubai like many of her fellow pros
The same coach ventured that there is only a certain amount of tinkering you can do with any player — the forehand is particularly key in this case — and that one voice is needed to assert a method on which Raducanu can rely.
She starts the season ranked 78, a modest number that might encourage the view that the GB No 1 will always struggle to emulate what she did at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
It might come as a surprise to those of that opinion that, despite the loss of her US Open points, the only player younger than Raducanu who is higher in the listings is American Coco Gauff. There are only six players aged 20 or below in the WTA top 100.
This suggests that Raducanu has not fallen as far off the pace as sometimes perceived. And that is after the jumble of 2022, when there was a constant swirl of distraction around her.
Arguably its low point was the grass season, when she yet again battled injury and used a trusted friend, Jane O’Donoghue, as a temporary coach despite her no longer working in tennis.
Emma Raducanu is set to tackle the new tennis season with a new coach in Sebastian Sachs
The German helped Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic (left) win an Olympic gold medal last year
For all that, Raducanu still beat a decent player on her Centre Court debut, Alison van Uytvanck, before losing against Caroline Garcia. That result was lent perspective by the French woman having a career-best season which saw her end up as world No 4.
‘I’ve had to adapt to the other things,’ Raducanu said yesterday of her past 12 months. ‘I haven’t changed as a person, but the other things around me have changed a lot. I’ve become extremely busy,
‘I don’t have any time, that’s probably the biggest thing. I’m probably more in the public eye, but it comes with the territory and I wouldn’t change it for what happened.’
Throughout 2022 there were minor injuries that popped up with sufficient regularity to hint they were occasionally a crutch when the pressure was at its greatest.
Raducanu’s former coach Dmitry Tursunov is joining up with Bencic in an effective swap
The hiring, if only as a part-time consultant, of Andy Murray’s former fitness trainer Jez Green in the autumn looks to be a step in the right direction.
The Mail on Sunday also understands that Will Herbert, who served as her physio during the miracle of New York, will be a more regular presence this year, while stopping short of being full time.
This again seems positive, but the proof of greater resilience will come if repeated physical ailments — which go back to her junior days — become less frequent.
While an amount of disruption could be expected after a stratospheric rise to fame, there become fewer excuses as New York 2021 retreats more into the distance.
A potential complication becomes servicing the commercial deals she chose to accept in the wake of that.
The British tennis star will look to close the gap between her tennis ranking and her status
She will look to close the gap between her tennis ranking and that of where she stands in the rich list of female athletes — 78 to four at the last count. It should be said that, within the sport’s parish, you are yet to hear of any evidence that her appetite for training and practice has been vitiated by the millions coming her way.
When Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov ended their arrangement in October he spoke colourfully of there being some ‘red flags’ that he had seen working with her. Yet he did not complain about her attitude: ‘She’s absolutely great, she’s a hard worker and she doesn’t think or act like she’s a superstar,’ he said.
The split was connected to the failure to tie down a long-term deal for himself, having come up against the Raducanu family’s well-documented suspicion of orthodox player-coach relationships.
Raducanu, who has been through several coaches, wants to build on her 2021 US Open victory
It appears her parents, Ian and Renee, are still very much involved in the decisions around her tennis. That is only natural given her age, and a well-established phenomenon in a sport where a concerted family effort is generally required to produce an elite talent.
There is also a process whereby young players gradually want to take control of their destiny as they become more experienced and assertive.
Intelligent, ambitious and self-contained, this is likely what Raducanu will go through in the coming years. Tensions can arise and it is often not an easy transition.
How she handles that will go some way to determining the answer to the question so often asked; will the US Open prove to be a one-off freak occurrence or can it be followed up?
‘A lot of the stuff (said about me) isn’t true, but I’m not one to call anyone out,’ she added in Auckland. ‘I know what’s true, as do the people around me. Dealing with it, you’ve got to accept people will talk and take it as a compliment.’
If all goes well, she should look to regain a place in the top 30 this year and start to be seeded at Grand Slams in 2024.
A lot could still go wrong, but there remains a lot of potential upside, too. One day the young player from Kent may yet win Wimbledon.
For someone who has already declared the desire to play into her 30s, the hurry will be in the minds of others.