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Thursday, October 28, 2021

‘Stay humble and learn how to say no’ – Andreescu & Swiatek’s advice for Raducanu

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At the US Open last month, Emma Raducanu became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977

Stay humble, remain grateful and learn how to say no is the advice from two people who have a very good idea what it feels like to be Emma Raducanu right now.

One month shy of her 19th birthday, Raducanu is about to play her first match as the US Open champion.

She will be up against the world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the 16,000-capacity centre court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California on Friday night (around 02:00 BST on Saturday).

Bianca Andreescu and Iga Swiatek were both 19 when they won their first Grand Slam titles.

Andreescu has been dealing with injury and a lot of bad luck since winning the 2019 US Open, while Swiatek has risen from 17 to four in the rankings since becoming French Open champion in October 2020.

“The advice I would give is to always remain grateful, even if you’re having the hugest successes – because it can all be taken away from you in a split second,” said Andreescu, who is defending the title she won in Indian Wells two and a half years ago.

“For me, it was being injured two months after. That was really hard. I feel like I didn’t savour it as much – that’s one thing I learnt which I wish I did back then.

“Don’t let it go too much to your head. Stay confident, obviously, but don’t become stuck up.

“Stay humble, remain grateful and continue to work hard because everyone says, at least in my experience, it’s easy to get to the top but staying at the top is the hardest part.”

Until her run to the fourth round of last month’s US Open, Andreescu had won only one Grand Slam match since her triumph in New York in 2019.

Swiatek, in contrast, is about to complete a very successful first year as a Grand Slam champion. The Pole has won two WTA titles, and reached at least the fourth round of all of this year’s Grand Slams.

She appears to have taken fame and expectations in her stride, but says it can be quite “overwhelming” at the start.

“It’s hard when you are just one year on tour, and suddenly you have this big success,” she said when appearing as a guest on BBC Radio 5 Live this week.

“But the most important thing for me was having very supportive people around me, and even though they also weren’t super experienced with dealing with Grand Slam champions, they knew what to do.

“If I had been all by myself, I don’t think I would cope with it so smoothly.”

One thing Swiatek says she could do better in future, is finding a way to sometimes say no.

“I’m not good at that,” she continued.

“I’m trying to be assertive sometimes, but when people ask me for autographs I can spend like 10 minutes signing balls, and suddenly I see on Twitter, ‘Oh, Iga is too nice.’

“But actually the problem is I can’t say no, and I have to learn that.”

Raducanu is here in Indian Wells without a permanent coach. The decision not to extend her US Open-winning partnership with Andrew Richardson, whom she has known since the age of 10, was taken with the challenge of competing regularly on the WTA Tour in mind.

But it does remove one of the 18-year-old’s key pillars of support as she adapts to life as a Grand Slam champion. The tour can be a lonely place, and Raducanu has not yet had the time to forge lasting friendships with other players.

The new world number 22 says she has not yet sought advice from the likes of Andreescu or Swiatek. She prefers not to question how things might change – and instead try and retain the spirit and state of mind which won her the title in New York.

“I don’t really want to change anything,” she said.

“What got me to this point is not thinking anything differently, so if I just put additional thoughts in my head then that will just create a problem, I think.

“So I’m just going to keep going about my business and staying the same. I haven’t really thought about going outside (the team) yet. I’ve just been focusing on my game and what I have to do.

“If I were to seek advice, it wouldn’t be right now, I think.”

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