Emma Raducanu’s former coach Dmitry Tursunov describes her as “absolutely great” and a “hard worker”, but he says he walked away from their collaboration as “there were some red flags that just couldn’t be ignored”.
The 2021 US Open winner started working with Tursunov over the summer and he accompanied her on the North American hard-court swing, getting a couple of impressive wins over former world No 1s Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the lead-up to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York.
However, Raducanu’s US Open defence came to a shuddering halt in the first round, but Tursunov remained in her camp for tournaments in Slovenia, South Korea and the Czech Republic.
Following a first-round exit in Ostrava, it was announced that Tursunov took up a position to be Belinda Bencic’s full-time coach.
In an interview with Carole Bouchard for Tennis Majors, Tursunov explained: “I was walking away from Emma regardless of whether there was another [player] available or not.
“We didn’t agree on the terms and there were some red flags that just couldn’t be ignored. So that’s why it’s a little frustrating to read things like that… I wasn’t hopping from one player to another, I wouldn’t do that.”
He added: “Our trial period was over at the US Open but I stuck around, trying to see if there was going to be a way to impress the team (he laughs). I really wanted to make it work.”
Raducanu, who wanted to continue working with the Russian, has struggled for form since winning the US Open last year and Tursunov had nothing but praise for her work ethic.
“First of all, she’s absolutely great, she’s a hard worker and she doesn’t think or act like she’s a superstar,” he said.
“She is hungry to improve and is obsessed with tennis. I think it’s quite a rare combination. So I really loved working with her, and I really wanted to make it work. It was a very difficult decision for me to walk away from a player that I like and respect.”
The 19-year-old, though, has gone through four coaches in the space of 16 months and Tursunov feels although she is “extremely talented”, her game is still “very raw” and she needs to stick with a coach for a longer period before she will start to see results.
“In my opinion, she’s minimum a one-year project but I would say that she’s probably a two-and-a-half-year project to be on the safe side,” he said.
“Of course, it’s hard to say that and it’s hard for people to understand how it is possible because she already won the US Open. But, in my opinion, her game is very raw, and I think in many ways it could use a lot of improvement. It’s going to take some time, but as I said to her and to pretty much everyone on her team: I think you just need to have one voice and just try that for a bit. And then if it doesn’t work, you cross that off your list.”
He added: “But she has a tremendous upside: she’s extremely talented, she’s very athletic, and very coordinated so she can get away with some things that other players can’t. The ingredients are very good, but you can still mess it up. So I felt it was going to be an interesting project, but a very long-term project, and as a coach, you want to have a belief that you’re going to be at work for that period.
“But of course, with her coaching situation, there’s now a thought going through every coach’s mind… So I was really hoping to find a solution to continue, which is why I stayed for a few weeks past the trial period. But in the end, we just couldn’t agree on the terms so I had to leave, and Belinda had nothing to do with that.”
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