Former British No. 1 Tim Henman backed injured star Emma Raducanu to make an instant impact once she makes a full recovery from wrist and ankle injuries.
Raducanu underwent successful surgery on both wrists and her ankle in May and shared a video of herself practicing for the first time a few weeks ago and couldn't hide her excitement of stepping onto the courts for the first time since winning three games against Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart.
Raducanu captioned her post on Instagram: August 2nd, THE FUN PART. 1st time back on court. She practiced with kids' balls as a way to ease her wrists into play without totally overwhelming them. Although it was initially anticipated she might be back for this summer's hard-court swing in the US, that is not going to happen.
Henman believes Raducanu's talent should win her matches. But he spoke with a footnote to his statement, reiterating the importance of keeping fit throughout the season. The 48-year-old Grand Slam semifinalist adds that playing at least 22 tournaments in 2024 should be high on Raducanu's self-improvement grid.
"If she’s fit and healthy, the results will come. She’s that good a player. She’s too good not to win matches. If she plays 22, 23 tournaments next year, that would be a great achievement, because the only way you’re going to do that is if you’re fit and healthy."
The earliest we could see the 20-year-old back in action this year is in October with tournaments on Chinese soil potentially giving her wild cards. If that is the case, it would mean Raducanu would have spent half of the calendar rehabbing from injuries.
Henman advises Raducanu to make use of whatever is remaining of this year to build around 'physical resielience'. With an extended break, Raducuanu can work on laying the foundation and build her body into competitive shape, something she never had during her off-season training according to Henman.
"No one as a professional athlete likes to be injured or wants to be injured. Having said that, I think this has been and will be a great opportunity to really build a foundation, and it’s really around physical resilience."
"She hasn’t had the opportunity to do the big, extended periods of physical training. Tennis ability is never going to be an issue but because of her journey, just being so unexpected coming out of Covid and playing at Wimbledon, with no real physical foundation, and then doing what she did in New York, she’s always been playing catch up."
But even with dimming lights at the end of the tunnel, Henman remains positive of all this ordeal and backs Raducanu to make an imprint on her return. The Sky Sports pundit buys into Raducanu's precocious talents, and he can easily see her integrating into the Top 100 and then gradually into the Top 50, but called for patience.
"So I’m very positive and optimistic. She’s such a great player that everybody would love to see Emma at the US Open, but she’s gonna have so many opportunities ahead of her. She and we just need to be a little bit patient."