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Emma Raducanu enjoying the best tennis of my career at BJK Cup | Tennis

Emma Raducanu enjoying the best tennis of my career at BJK Cup |  Tennis


Emma Raducanu believes she is playing the best tennis of her career and wants to build on the momentum from her leading role in Great Britain's qualification for the Billie Jean King Cup final to put herself back at the top of the sport settle.

My final [BJK] Two years ago the cup match was in the Czech Republic, Raducanu said. It's great to see how far I've come in many areas in terms of tennis. I have definitely improved. I feel like I'm playing one of the best tennis players of my career and life, so I'm very happy with that. And emotionally and mentally, it took a lot of character to get through the moments of the last few days, especially when the entire stadium is pretty much against you. I can just handle a lot of positivity and I really enjoyed this week.

During the BJK Cup weekend, the 21-year-old took two of Great Britain's three points as they upset France 3-1 on indoor clay in Le Portel, a small coastal town in northern France. She described her performance as very, very high among the best performances of her career.

Impressively, Raducanu recovered from a set down in both matches to win three sets against Caroline Garcia and Diane Parry, and she was able to handle the pressure with her team relying so heavily on her. But what made her performance special was the level she maintained throughout the entire competition.

In both matches, Raducanu had to accept that she still played well even after losing the opening sets. She responded to those early setbacks by playing daring attacking tennis, taking the ball early, gutting the ball and, above all, hitting her forehand with sustained authority. Her movement also showed the physical progress she has made. It was some of the best tennis she has played in her career and her biggest achievement since winning the 2021 US Open. Her level also meant more improvement on an unfamiliar surface.

I'm actually enjoying it [the clay], she said. It's kind of like when you're not sure about something at first: the more you try to make sure you like it, the more you actually like it. I honestly really enjoy it, I've always felt like my movements on this surface have always been a force. It was more my patience and my fitness to stay in the long rallies and build up the points. It's definitely a budding relationship.

Emma Raducanu and Anne Keothavong celebrate victory during a positive weekend for the British team. Photo: Aurlien Meunier/Getty Images for ITF

Professional tennis can be a lonely and lonely pursuit, but the bond Raducanu and her teammates built at Le Portel was certainly conducive to her comfort on the court. After her tough opening loss, Katie Boulter received a supportive message from Raducanu on Friday evening, which Boulter cited as a key factor in her recovery to beat Clara Burel on Saturday.

During their press conference, Raducanu and Anne Keothavong, the GB captain, also laughed about an inside joke within the team. Raducanu and Fran Jones, the fifth singles player, decided that they will take a trip to Tuscany at the end of this year. Laughing, Raducanu refused to explain the origin of the joke. It was the running joke of the week. When we celebrated at the end, we shouted Tuscany! and the rest are also invited to our weekend in Tuscany.

In the bigger picture, this seems like exactly the kind of moment Raducanu has been waiting for. The past two and a half years have been extremely challenging as she tried to find her way after such an unexpected early breakthrough at the US Open.

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In addition to the uncomfortable criticism and expectations, her progress has been hampered by numerous injuries and a lack of continuity within her team. But since returning from her three surgeries early this year, Raducanu has finally found a sustainable period of health, which has allowed her to make progress on the field.

It remains to be seen how important this week will be in the context of the rest of her season, but it certainly looks like she has taken an important step forward at Le Portel and has the chance to use it as a springboard for even more greater success.

This is also an important moment for the British BJK Cup team in general. Having spent much of her playing career battling for promotion from the extremely difficult Euro-African zonal groups, Keothavong knows how far her team has come. Now they can field a top 30 player and a grand slam champion, and beat one of the stronger sporting nations. Having achieved such an important victory on their least known surface, they head to Seville knowing that much is possible on much better known, favorite indoor hard courts.




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