British tennis hero Emma Raducanu will continue her cooperation with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov, according to reports in the UK. Raducanu began working with Tursunov on a trial basis at the recent North American series of events, prompting anger in British political circles.
Raducanu, 19, recently endured an early exit in her title defense at the US Open, falling in the first round to experienced French rival Alize Cornet.
The teenage star – who shocked the tennis world by coming through qualifying to win the New York tournament in 2021 – had confirmed that she was working with Tursunov, 39, on a “trial basis” during the WTA’s North American hard-court swing in the summer.
According to The Independent, citing the PA news agency, Raducanu will continue to work with Tursunov when she returns at a WTA event in Portoroz, Slovenia, next week.
Raducanu initially settled on Tursunov – a former world number 20 during his playing days – after burning through a series of coaches in an effort to recapture form, having been blighted by inconsistent performances and lingering injury issues following her stunning New York success last year.
Despite her early exit at Flushing Meadows this time around, Raducanu said she would be content to start with a clean slate and attempt to work her way back up the rankings – with the youngster set to plunge from world number 11 to outside the top 80.
Tursunov has previously worked with the likes of current US Open semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Estonian world number two Anett Kontaveit.
Raducanu’s decision to call on the Russian specialist drew ire among some of her nation’s politicians – not least after Wimbledon took the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players this summer because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking to The Telegraph back in July, the chair of the UK’s all-Parliamentary group on Russia, Chris Bryant, claimed that “the Kremlin will portray this as a PR coup” as well as “an indication that the UK doesn’t really care” about the situation in Ukraine.
“It’ll be a real shame if Emma goes ahead with this,” he added.
Fellow MP Julian Knight, who is chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told the same newspaper: “It does jar to see a Russian coaching Britain’s number one rising star.”
Raducanu herself has mostly remained tight-lipped on her coaching arrangements, but said of Tursunov on the eve of the US Open: “He definitely has a good sense of humor, and he’s definitely trying to make me take things easier on myself.
“I put a lot of emphasis on everything I do, and I want to do it the best of my abilities all the time.
“You know, he’s just slowly trying to shift me towards, If it’s not perfect, it’s okay. Like, if you shank [a shot], it’s okay. Just these sorts of things, and being more accepting of that.”
Joining Raducanu at the WTA 250 tournament in Slovenia next week will be a field featuring Russian-born reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, and 2021 French Open championBarbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
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