The most exciting vacancy in tennis coaching opened up last week, when Emma Raducanu split from coach Andrew Richardson. The CVs must have been flying to Raducanu HQ in Bromley ever since.
Opting to drop the coach who guided Raducanu’s dream run to the US Open title may seem drastic from the outside, but Richardson was one of many short-term coaches she has worked with during her short career. She has since spoken of her aim to find a replacement who “has that WTA tour experience at the high levels… who knows what it takes”.
Sources suggest that recruitment is ongoing. Raducanu has spent the past week hitting at the National Tennis Centre with LTA coach Matt James, who was part of her team along with Nigel Sears during Wimbledon this year. But she is not expected to travel with him to Indian Wells, which she has been given a wildcard entry for next month.
A decision on her long-term coach will likely come in the off-season at the end of this year. Here is Telegraph Sport’s shortlist of candidates she and her team may well be eyeing up.
Darren Cahill – the high-flying game changer
Darren Cahill could be a frontrunner. When he and Romania’s Simona Halep split ties amicably last week, after six successful years together, the timing could not have been better.
The 55-year-old has the type of tour experience Raducanu is looking for, having previously worked with Andy Murray and Ana Ivanovic as a member of the adidas coaching roster. Since then, Halep has credited him with guiding the most successful period of her career, helping her to win two major titles and reach the No 1 ranking after years of falling short. The one blip is that he has spent the best part of the pandemic in his native Australia, and has spoken about his desire to devote more time with his family.
Wim Fissette – the proven winner
This move would require Belgian Fissette to leave Naomi Osaka’s camp. Osaka announced at the US Open that she would be taking a break from the game, but then said this week that “I kind of have that itch [to play] again”. This suggests that Fissette will soon be back at work with his existing client. Which is unfortunate from the point of view of Raducanu’s recruitment drive, because he is perhaps the most reliably successful coach around.
As unprecedented as Raducanu’s US Open win was, Fissette had a similar experience with Kim Clijsters. Before Raducanu, she was the last woman ranked outside the top 100 to win the title, and did so with Fissette in her corner. Not only that, he helped Clijsters equal her success the following year in 2010, with another title in New York. Fissette may well be the man to ensure Raducanu backs up the success of her early career peak, as he has experience working with other major champions: Angelique Kerber, Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep.
Esteban Carril – the stepping stone coach
Carril is best known in British tennis as the coach who helped Johanna Konta to make her breakthrough into the top 10 during their two years together. Though Raducanu has already achieved her breakthrough moment, considering her age she could still learn a great deal from a coach who has helped players navigate the rankings from top 30 to the very top.
Carril also previously worked at the LTA’s National Academy in Stirling, for the top young prospects in the country, up until last November, making the Spaniard very familiar with British tennis circles. It was Carril’s insight and advice, relayed through the medium of Mark Petchey, which helped to smooth out a few wrinkles in Raducanu’s service action last year.
Iain Hughes – the British option
A British option with heaps of experience with top players on the WTA tour, Hughes may well be a strong match for Raducanu. Formerly world No 6 Elina Svitolina’s coach of two years during her rise to the top 20, he also worked with Raducanu’s US Open quarter-final opponent and Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic.
Another huge plus is that Hughes was part of Andy Murray’s support staff when he was an outstanding junior, ahead of joining Svitolina’s camp in 2014. Like Cahill, he is also available, after leaving his role with Russia’s Anastasia Potapova after Wimbledon.
Andy Murray – the wildcard
A match made in British tennis heaven, but this is by no means an option for Raducanu’s current coaching needs. Murray has recently reiterated his ambition to win tournaments again and made clear his view on those who wrote him off with his recent on-court rallying cry of “I’m not f—— done”.
Post-retirement, though, Murray could be the perfect fit for Raducanu: he knows better than anyone the unique position Raducanu finds herself in, carrying the hopes of the nation on her young shoulders; he is a strong supporter of the women’s game; and has expressed his plans to remain within the game long-term. It would bring a whole new meaning to ‘dream team’.