Emma Raducanu has said she is “optimistic” about finalising a partnership with a new coach before the Australian Open. Raducanu has been without a coach since deciding not to stay with Andrew Richardson after their work at the US Open and she says she has had “a couple of trials” over the past week with coaches, including with Johanna Konta’s former coach Esteban Carril.
The Transylvania Open will be Raducanu’s second tournament since she won the US Open and she has arrived in Cluj-Napoca with the physio Will Herbert, who was part of her team in New York through the LTA but who will be working with her more often. Her father, who is hoping to see his mother in Bucharest after the tournament ends, is also there as well as the IMG agent Chris Helliar.
Asked who will be coaching her during the tournament, Raducanu responded with a one-word answer and a smile: “Myself.”
While she is without an official coach, Raducanu believes there is great value in learning how to figure out situations on her own, particularly as she continues to grow on the tour. “I think having a coach is great,” she said. “But once again you are on your own on the court. I don’t think it is great to be dependent. You need to coach yourself. That is something I am learning.
“Part of the experience I am having is being able to learn to coach myself. Sometimes it won’t always work, like in Indian Wells, but in the long-term if I keep doing that then I will be better in the situations in the future.”
Raducanu will contest her first‑round match in Cluj-Napoca against Polona Hercog on Tuesday and she continued preparations by practising in front of a solid crowd on the tournament’s centre court for the last time before the government’s decision to ban spectators from indoor sporting events comes into effect on Monday.
Raducanu played points with her good friend Gabriela Ruse of Romania, and was part of a presentation alongside Romanian players as they expressed their sadness to fans about not being able to compete in front of spectators this week.
While Raducanu was nerveless in the face of serving out a US Open championship point, when she was asked to speak a few words of Romanian to hundreds of spectators, her reaction was notably different. “I can understand like, I’d say, 80%,” she said. “I don’t want to big myself up. About 80%. I just really struggle to find my words and vocab.
“When I got told about this thing at the end of the session, at the changeovers I was thinking of my vocab. Trying to think really hard. The more I spend time here, the more I immerse myself in the language, I can pick it up reasonably fast.”
One of the benefits of having a varied family background is that it is not difficult for Raducanu to find friendly faces on the tour. Much like her rapport with Chinese players such as Zhang Shuai, who Raducanu has said keenly speaks with her in Mandarin, she has a similar relationship with some Romanian players including Monica Niculescu, Ruse and Ana Bogdan who all encouraged her on the court as she spoke in their shared language.
“They recognised my surname,” she says. “Which is pretty Romanian. So we started chatting. They are really friendly girls, really nice. We have been hitting a lot. I chatted to Monica a lot. We go out for dinner. A really nice bunch of girls. I am really happy that they have welcomed me and been friendly and patient with me as well, trying to help and guide me.”
Their rapport will only improve as Raducanu spends more time in Romania again and immerses herself in the language – as she used to do when she would visit her grandmother, Niculina, once or twice each year and savour her version of the Romanian dish sarmale. Now, however, her reasons for returning to her father’s home country are strictly business.