MIKE DICKSON: Emma Raducanu’s dumping of coach Andrew Richardson shows fairytales don’t last long in sport… but it creates an extra layer of pressure for the US Open champion
- Andrew Richardson guided Emma Raducanu through her US Open triumph
- He is seeking alternative employment just like Nigel Sears a few months back
- Abrupt coaching changes such as this are commonplace on the WTA Tour
- But it is more complications when she already has a new world to adapt to
Fairytales do not last long in sport, and for Andrew Richardson that meant being dumped this week as Emma Raducanu’s coach.
The former British Davis Cup player, who emerged from relative obscurity to guide her through her triumphant American odyssey, has already found himself surplus to requirements as the 18 year-old plans her next move.
Just as Nigel Sears was ruthlessly disposed of after her breakthrough at Wimbledon, Richardson is seeking alternative employment despite their dramatically successful pairing of the last two months.
Emma Raducanu’s dumping of coach Andrew Richardson shows fairytales don’t last long in sport
Nigel Sears was also ruthlessly disposed of after her breakthrough at Wimbledon in summer
Raducanu explained that she was looking for someone with more high level tour experience for the next phase of her development.
Shortly before, at a ‘homecoming’ event laid on at Roehampton’s National Tennis Centre, she had described the US Open afterparty with her close-knit team as the single most joyous memory of the whole episode.
Yet nothing would cloud the judgement of her and her father Ian that someone else is needed for the next step.
‘I just realised I really need someone right now that has had the experience at the high levels, which, which means that I’m looking for someone who will who has been at that level and knows what it takes,’ she said, admitting that parting had not been easy.
Raducanu attended a ‘homecoming’ event laid on at Roehampton’s National Tennis Centre
Her physio, Will Herbert (left) – one of the tiny group around her in New York – appears likely to be retained
‘ It’s tough to have that conversation with anyone but I think for me like that’s just really what I need. Someone who’s seen players in my situation for many years, going through the same. The players at the top, they’re serious competition, so I feel like I just really need someone that can really guide me along the way because I’m still very new to everything.’
Richardson was said to have not been at the NTC on Thursday when she returned to training, and she worked with LTA coach Matt James.
Her physio, Will Herbert – one of the tiny group around her in New York – appears likely to be retained in the new set-up.
While abrupt coaching changes are commonplace on the WTA Tour, this move creates an extra layer of complications and pressure at a time when Raducanu already has a whole new world to adapt to.
The arrangement with Richardson was only due to last for the duration of the American trip, and he was hired on the basis of their close relationship formed when he worked with her during pre-teenage years at the Bromley Tennis Centre.
Australian Darren Cahill, who has just finished with Simona Halep, is an option for Raducanu
Those with close links to her management company, IMG, include Sven Groeneveld
It was never likely that the partnership would be for the long term, given his relative lack of mileage on the main women’s tour. As sometimes seen with the player she has usurped as British number one, Jo Konta, the life expectancy of these relationships is not long.
Raducanu emphasised today that she is still a work in progress: ‘I feel like there are a lot of areas of my game that I can still develop and one part of that is physically. I think I’m still very behind from where I need to be. I think I can add a lot more things into my game, so I can have more variety and mix things up.’
There will be no shortage of options for her to look at among those who have coached Grand Slam champions. Australian Darren Cahill, who has just finished with Simona Halep, is one.
Those with close links to her management company, IMG, include people who have worked with Maria Sharapova, such as Dutchman Sven Groeneveld and Swede Thomas Hogstedt. Argentinian Carlos Rodriguez, who worked with Justine Henin, is another.
Swede Thomas Hogstedt (right) also has close links to the Brit’s management company
Raducanu said on Friday that she had yet to decide whether or not to ask for a wildcard into the Indian Wells tournament early next month, and would make the choice in the coming days.
She is entered into Moscow’s Kremlin Cup which follows, but added: ‘I don’t want to rush in, I haven’t had that much time to rest. My priority is just putting in the best possible preseason that I can so I can start strong next year.’
Potentially qualifying for the eight-woman WTA Finals, which is now feasible, would be purely a bonus, she said.
Raducanu and fellow British US Open champions Joe Salisbury, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid had an ecstatic welcome back from an assembled crowd of invited schoolchildren.
Argentinian Carlos Rodriguez (left), who worked with Justine Henin, is another option
When asked about her academics she replied that she would be interested in doing a degree in economics at some point in the future.
Afterwards she was given a taste of more awkward questions when the emotive subject of her position on vaccine uptake among athletes was brought up.
She replied that ‘it’s a personal choice I guess really, because everyone has their own thoughts on the vaccine’. Later a clarification was issued, stating that she herself has been double vaccinated against Coronavirus.
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