Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Mats Wilander is sceptical about Emma Raducanu’s new partnership with coach Torben Beltz - and wonders whether she would be better off navigating her own path.
The British number one announced recently that she will be linking up with the man who helped guide Angelique Kerber to the 2016 Australian Open and US Open titles. Having the title in New York herself, Raducanu was keen to find an experienced coach to help her adapt to life on the WTA Tour.
But Wilander is not sure if that was the right idea - believing instead that, at the age of just 19, she should be enjoying the freedom of developing her game at her own pace, rather than potentially complicating her progression.
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“We mustn't forget that it wasn't like we didn't know who she was. We knew she had a huge game,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“They [young players] need to play the way they want to play, and they need to find out how good they are, and they need to ride the wave of youth and confidence for as far as they can before you start hiring coaches that have helped players to win Grand Slams. She knows how to win a Grand Slam. She won one.
"She needs to have fun, she needs to be allowed to do what she wants to do off and on the tennis court, and she needs to develop in her own time and not to force coaches on her.
“I'm not saying that Torben Beltz is not... he's a great coach, he obviously coached Angie Kerber for a long time. I believe it helped her win Grand Slam tournaments, but Angie Kerber knew how to do that anyway.”
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England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones recently received criticism for his comments about Raducanu, hinting that she may already be distracted by off-court interests. But Wilander effectively has the opposite view, and thinks she should do what she wants before settling into a structured coaching partnership.
“I just feel it's unnecessary to take coaches that have experience when you are dealing with an 18 year old who is fresh, who is so full of life,” said Wilander.
We’ve got to let these kids grow up before you try to shape them. Otherwise, there's a very, very big chance that people are going to be what stops Emma from developing into a great player.
“I think she needs to be allowed to do that herself. We saw with Sascha Zverev - Ivan Lendl did not help Sascha Zverev at all! He was forced to try with these superstar coaches. It doesn't work for an 18-year-old.
“They need to grow up in their own time and with Emma Raducanu, I'm sorry, but it's not a good idea to have too many voices in her head. The only voice she needs to listen to is her own.”
Raducanu is preparing for her first full pre-season on the WTA Tour, having had a short break at the end of the 2021 campaign.
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