British star comments on Russian coach amid political uproar
British tennis star Emma Raducanu, 19, has discussed her cooperation with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov after the two linked up this summer.
Raducanu shot to fame last year when she stormed to victory at the 2021 US Open, becoming the first woman to win a Grand Slam singles title as a qualifier, but parted ways with coach Torben Beltz in April after just five months of working together - a situation which left her searching for her fourth coach in the span of just a year.
Her search for coaching consistency has lately led her to Tursunov, the former world number 20 who has helped develop the games of both Elena Vesnina and Aryna Sabalenka.
And while Raducanu is keen to note that her partnership with the 39-year-old Moscow native remains on a trial basis, she says that Tursunov has already had a positive impact in her camp.
“He definitely has a good sense of humour, and he’s definitely trying to make me take things easier on myself,” she said.
“I put a lot of emphasis on everything I do, and I want to do it the best of my abilities all the time.
“You know, he’s just slowly trying to shift me towards, If it’s not perfect, it’s okay. Like, If you shank one, it’s okay. Just these sorts of things, and being more accepting of that."
Raducanu was speaking after her opening round win at the Washington Open, where she defeated Louisa Chirico in straight sets and credited Tursenov with helping her overcome mental hurdles which have sometimes blighted her performances.
“Yeah, it definitely helped I think in today’s match, because things weren’t perfect,” Raducanu explained.
“I wasn’t playing amazing tennis, but I was accepting and I just, you know, fought through to the end.”
The teenager added that she feels like she is developing in all aspects, and says that she has come to learn that she cannot burden herself with expectation is she is to perform to her fullest on the court.
“I feel wiser now compared to, like, just after the US Open and the beginning of this year, because I think that no matter what I said, I probably did have, you know, certain expectations of myself that were probably a bit twisted,” she said.
“And now I genuinely just accept it. Okay, it's not going to be pretty necessarily or easy, but I'm like 100 percent okay for starting over, to be honest. Like if my ranking plummets to like 1000 and whatever, then I don't care.
“I know that being a US Open champ I'm going to somehow pull my way back up there. It's going to take a bit of time maybe, but, yeah, I'm just really, you know, accepting of that and looking forward to whatever journey it takes.”
However, not everyone is quite so enthusiastic about Raducanu's link-up with Tursunov - something which came in the shadow the ban imposed by English tennis officials at Wimbledon on Russian players.
British MP Chris Bryant claimed that Russia will use the Raducanu-Tursunov partnership for propaganda purposes should the relationship prosper.
“The Kremlin will portray this as a PR coup and an indication that the UK doesn’t really care about the war in Ukraine, so it’ll be a real shame if Emma goes ahead with this,” said Bryant.
“I urge her to think again and at the very least to condemn Putin’s barbaric war. It does jar to see a Russian coaching Britain’s number one rising star.”
Raducanu plays Camila Osorio in the next round of the Washington Open.