Emma Raducanu insisted on Wednesday that she would be perfectly “easy” in her mind about going into Wimbledon without a conventional head coach.
“I am not necessarily stressing or panicking,” Raducanu told reporters. “I feel like I am easy. Of course a coach’s experience is very valuable at certain times, but the majority of the time I feel that I already know the answer that I am asking the question to.”
The subject arose because Raducanu dismissed her latest coach, Torben Beltz, after the recent Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. She is in Madrid this week, where she is due to play world No 50 Tereza Martincova on Friday, but her practices will be overseen by a locum assistant – namely the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of women’s tennis Iain Bates.
News of Beltz’s departure emerged on Tuesday, accompanied by a statement in which Raducanu spoke of moving to a “new training model”. When she was asked to explain this phrase, she spoke in generalities, saying that she wanted “to focus a lot more on the sparring quality” of her training-court partners, and that “there are some technical elements of my game that I really need to just get back to the basics and kind of develop from the bottom”.
While Raducanu declined to offer any clues about her next potential appointments, she has been strongly linked to the celebrated Italian coach Riccardo Piatti.
Whether her next hire will function as a conventional head coach is doubtful, in any case. It seems more likely that Piatti would run the operation from his base on the Italian Riviera, while leaving a lot of the day-to-day work to proxies – either from the LTA or his own Piatti Tennis Centre in Bordighera, which boasts the remarkable tally of 17 coaches.
“I am very comfortable with how I am training right now and I feel like the work I have been doing has been extremely specific in the last weeks,” said Raducanu, who had a reputation during her junior days for hiring coaches to work on one individual shot – or even a sub-section of that shot, such as the cross-court backhand return of serve.
“I feel like I don’t really need a conventional, you know, [person with] just this title: Emma Raducanu’s coach. From a young age, I haven’t necessarily always had a coach, and when I was training alone growing up, I had to learn to be my own coach. I feel that is something that I am pretty good at – actually understanding the game [and] studying it. A lot of the time, I feel that I know all the answers that I am coming to myself.”
Raducanu also took time to address the suggestion that she is a serial coach-sacker, having also seen off Nigel Sears (after last year’s Wimbledon) and Andrew Richardson (after the US Open) in the last nine months.
“With Nigel I was actually training with him three years at least,” she said. “He’s a great coach with a lot of experience, but after three years with anyone you also feel like you need to try and progress and learn something else. I feel like sometimes it’s not down to me either. Sometimes it’s something from their end and they can’t continue, not just me saying ‘Okay, I’ve had enough now.’”
And what of the idea that her father Ian is actually the man pulling the strings? “At the end of the day I make the decision, but as a 19-year-old I’m always going to ask my parents, just like my schoolfriends might ask their parents which Uni they should go to. It’s the same thing really.”
Raducanu also expressed her gratitude to Beltz, who oversaw a tricky period of adaptation on the WTA Tour in which she won four matches and lost six. “Torben is a very great guy,” she said. “I really, really enjoyed my time with him on and off the court. He is one of the nicest people I’ve met so obviously it was a tough one to split with someone like that.
“Obviously this decision doesn’t happen straight away,” Raducanu added. “I’ve kind of been thinking along the same lines, just debating whether [or not to make a change]. But I feel like over the last few weeks, it’s definitely become more apparent and especially as I’ve spent more time on the tour playing more matches against these top opponents, I kind of understand what I feel like I need more of.
“I think Torben has been great for me because when I wanted someone with tour experience, I think for my first six months on the tour, it was very valuable.”
Finally, Raducanu was asked for her view on the issue that has divided the tennis world over the past week: Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s Championships.
“I don’t know all of the context, all of the facts, so I can’t really comment,” she replied. “But it’s extremely sad there is a war going on and I feel like it’s tough the players are getting caught up in it.”