John McEnroe takes aim at Emma Raducanu over 'unbelievable' move

·4-min read
John McEnroe says he can't understand Emma Raducanu's decision to churn through tennis coaches. Pic: Eursport/Getty
John McEnroe says he can't understand Emma Raducanu's decision to churn through tennis coaches. Pic: Eursport/Getty

Tennis legend John McEnroe says he's baffled by the Emma Raducanu coaching saga after the teen sensation was bundled out in the second round of the French Open.

The US Open champion exited after a stunning second-round loss, going down after winning the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

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Making her debut at Roland Garros, Raducanu suffered a stunning collapse in the 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 defeat to her Belarusian opponent on Wednesday.

Raducanu split with her coach Torbin Beltz in April, despite the pair spending just five months together.

Beltz was the third different mentor in 10 months for Raducanu, who came to Roland Garros without a coach after announcing that she was trying a "new training model" that involves support from the Lawn Tennis Association and meetings with consultants.

Raducanu replaced Nigel Sears with Andrew Richardson after Wimbledon, then decided not to renew the latter's contract despite the fact he guided her to a historic victory at the US Open as a qualifier.

Seen here, Aliaksandra Sasnovich shaking hands with Emma Raducanu after winning their second round match at the French Open.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich shakes hands with Emma Raducanu after winning their second round match at the French Open. Pic: Getty

Speaking after her loss at the French Open, McEnroe said he could not fathom the wisdom behind the 19-year-old's decision not to employ a conventional coach.

“Honestly, if I won the US Open having gone through qualifying, I wouldn’t change my coach at least for the next year, so I don’t understand that move,” McEnroe said during his commentary duties for Eurosport.

“Obviously her parents are involved and they know more than I know. But this idea of a revolving door of coaches – I just don’t think that’s good for any player, much less so for a player at this stage of her career. We have to wait and see and hopefully she finds someone she can stick with for a while."

Raducanu's father Ian is understood to prefer a model whereby the 19-year-old learns as much as she can from one coach in a short space of time, before moving onto someone else with different ideas.

John McEnroe questions Emma Raducanu approach

However, McEnroe insists Raducanu would benefit more from an experienced mentor who remains by her side and can have ideas bounced off them from week to week.

“Obviously experience, she is still very young. She has sort of put herself in a difficult position because a lot is expected of her and with the people around her, we are not sure if she is comfortable with them just yet. Hopefully in the next year or two she will find that.

“We have got to keep a little perspective here. At Wimbledon last year she was unable to finish a match because of stress and it got to be too much for her.

"Then she came out and did something that no one has ever done – man or woman – in 150 years of tennis, coming from the qualifying and winning.

"All of a sudden, there is this pressure on her, this expectation, that has gotten a little bit overwhelming as well. She has changed coaches, three, four or five times which is unbelievable for someone who has just come off winning a major.”

Raducanu broke Sasnovich in the fifth game of the opening set, hitting consecutive backhand winners followed by a forehand to clinch it.

Sasnovich couldn't convert on three chances to break her opponent in the first set but took advantage with two breaks to start the second, when the 47th-ranked player also won 12 of 14 service points.

The 12th-seeded Raducanu failed to convert on five break-point chances at 1-1 in the third, as Sasnovich recorded her 16th career victory over a top-20 player.

Raducanu was surprisingly upbeat after the match.

“I think before I would let the losses affect me more than I am right now,” she told reporters at her press conference.

“Now I just look at everything as a lesson, and I know exactly where I went wrong, where I can improve, where other people are better than me.”

Raducanu, who also lost to Sasnovich at Indian Wells last year in her first match after winning the US Open title, had 17 winners and 33 unforced errors on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Sasnovich advanced to the third round at Roland Garros for the first time in her seventh appearance.

with agencies

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