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Emma Raducanu learns her fate in the Madrid Open draw as clash with former world number 1 beckons

Vaseline 3 months ago

Emma Raducanu has arrived in Madrid ahead of her appearance in the WTA 1000 event taking place in the city in the coming weeks, with the wildcard she needed to play in the tournament always likely to come her way.

The 2021 US Open champion confirmed her arrival in the Spanish capital with a post on Instagram as she prepares for another high-profile appearance on the WTA Tour after a hugely encouraging few days.

The 21-year-old British star was not part of the Madrid Open leaders’ initial wildcard announcement, but they confirmed Raducanu would play before Sunday’s draw.

That draw gave Raducanu another chance to test herself against a former world No. 1 as she faces Czech star Karolina Pliskova.

Raducanu may see this draw as a good opportunity to make progress as Pliskova has been in indifferent form in 2024, with her win in the WTA 250 tournament at the Transylvania Open in February the highlight of her year.

Pliskova has won just one match in her last three tournaments and at the age of 32, she may be in the final stages of her career.

Raducanu returns after a challenging 2023 with surgery on both her wrists and ankle.

It’s understandable that she’s taken time to get back into top shape and fitness after being away from playing for so long, but it seems like she’s back to her best.

Two great victories in the Billie Jean King Cup were supported by a participation in the quarter-finals of last week’s Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

She was defeated 7-6(2) 6-3 by world No. 1 Iga Swiatek last Friday and admitted after that match that she felt jaded after playing five matches in quick succession.

READ MORE: ‘Nick Cavaday has brought a lot of belief to Emma Raducanu’s game’

“It’s no secret that I’m tired,” Raducanu said. “I have played a lot of tennis in the last week, but I would much rather be in this position where I have a lot of matches under my belt, where I feel confident and confident. good on the field and tired.

Raducanu has withdrawn from the Miami Open due to discomfort in her lower back, but she is clearly looking to build on the momentum she has built by playing more top-level opposition in Madrid.

Although her wildcard for the tournament has yet to be confirmed, Raducanu was in pole position to secure a precious ticket to play as her management company owns the Madrid Open.

The IMG Group has announced that it has agreed a deal to take over the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the end of 2021 and given that they have a big influence on wildcards, Raducanu would probably always be at the top of their list.

Raducanu will be left out of the squad again and could land a big name in the early rounds of the competition, but she is playing at a level on clay courts that will challenge players in the top 30 of the women’s game.

Her tight matches with Swiatek and world number 2 Aryna Sabalenka in recent weeks have confirmed her return to form and she is also growing in confidence.

“I think it helps that I feel like I have more of a serve in the last two tournaments, so it’s more of a weapon,” she said in Stuttgart last week.

“I feel like I can continue to improve my game, whereas at the beginning of the year I just had to work so hard and win every point from the baseline. I feel like that definitely makes a difference.

“I also feel like I have so much confidence in all the work I’ve been doing on the practice courts. I worked very hard on it.

“I wouldn’t say I do anything special. I just try to stay in the present and trust and fall back on my training.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired, but I would much rather be in this position where I’ve played a lot of games and feel tired than be super fresh and lose. It’s funny because you always want something that you can’t have.

“I play very good tennis. I feel like I’m much more dominant in my service games. I feel like I’m playing at a high level, I’m playing very well. I think everyone I practiced with can attest to that.”