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There were a lot of positives for Emma Raducanu the past few weeks on clay, but the US Open champion insists she will only play again once she has fully recovered from her back injury.
Raducanu struggled with a back problem at the Madrid Open last week and was initially doubtful for the Italian Open as she admitted that she needed to manage her injury.
However, she took to the court at Foro Italico on Tuesday for her opening match against Bianca Andreescu, but the injury flared up again and, after initially taking a medical timeout for treatment on her lower back in the first set, she retired while trailling 6-2, 2-1.
Raducanu admits she still has a lot to learn about when to push her body and when to take a break.
“I thought that maybe taking one, two days off, it would just go away because a lot of the other small niggles I’ve had, they’ve kind of gone away after taking, like, two days off,” she told the WTA Tour.
“Then I got here and I was training, but it just didn’t seem to get better. I was training with some limitations. I wasn’t moving really, I was just playing where I knew where the ball was coming, just staying in one corner. I think I must have underestimated the unpredictability of competition in a match, you have to react… Bianca is a great player. She’s not going to let up and just hit the ball to you.”
She added: “I never really knew how bad it was until I kind of went out there. I’m still learning when it’s right to push my body and push through it, and when’s not.
“I guess that’s something I’m kind of learning at these tournaments. The difference is I’m probably doing it at bigger tournaments, not smaller tournaments on the way up.”
After struggling to win back-to-back matches during the first three months of the season, Raducanu reached the quarter-final at the Stuttgart Open and the third round in Madrid last week.
The big one on clay, the French Open at Roland Garros, is next on the calendar with the Grand Slam getting underway on May 22 and it remains to be seen if Raducanu will enter as she is determined to only play when she is 100% fit.
“I think the last few weeks have been really positive,” the British No 1 said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and my game has definitely improved on this surface.
“But for sure I need to make sure my back is fully right, however long that takes. I need to just keep on it. I don’t want to play my next match with a feeling of limitation because I think that I learned my lesson from this week, when to push, and when not to push. Probably today wasn’t right.”
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