No place like home for Raducanu as she makes Nottingham return

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Raducanu made her WTA tour debut at Nottingham last year before embarking on a meteoric rise that culminated in the US Open title
Raducanu made her WTA tour debut at Nottingham last year before embarking on a meteoric rise that culminated in the US Open title

Emma Raducanu admits the LTA’s Rothesay Open Nottingham will always hold a special status in her remarkable tennis journey, writes Sportsbeat's Will Jennings.

The Bromley ace, who is on the LTA’s Elite Support Programme, kickstarts her grass court season against Swiss star Viktorija Golubic in the Midlands on Tuesday.

Raducanu, 19, captured the nation’s hearts by soaring to Grand Slam glory at last year’s US Open after also reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon to cement her status as one of the hottest prospects on the global circuit.

The world No.11 has fond memories of Nottingham and hopes toppling Golubic on Tuesday – ranked almost 100 places below her – can lay the foundations for another rise to the summit.

She said: “It signifies the start of a journey for me.

“I went to Nottingham to receive my Wimbledon wildcard so it definitely does bring back some really fond memories.

“The year before Nottingham, I didn’t play a competitive match for 18 months so I was very nervous.

“I got to practice for the first time this week on grass. I’ve always loved the grass courts, so to come back and be playing at home is great. I’m looking forward to it

“This was my first WTA tournament so to come back 12 months later full circle knowing what happened, it is pretty surreal.

“I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved in the last 12 months and learning to not be so hard on myself. I’m really enjoying my time right now and I believe in the work that I’ve been doing day in day out. The grass season is going to be a lot of fun.

“I love the grass, but there are so many good players in the draw. I don’t really think about results much anymore because there’s no use in that.

“I think I’ve improved in many aspects of my game, there are a few things that I want to get back but I feel I’ve made a lot of progress.

“Compared to the player I was, there has been many times when I’ve felt that I was playing better but the results didn’t follow.

“I’m feeling really good physically.”

Raducanu slipped to defeat against current British No.3 Harriet Dart in the first round of the LTA’s Rothesay Open last year.

But she followed that up with her remarkable run at SW19 before her historic triumph at Flushing Meadows catapulted her into the international spotlight.

Raducanu has been unable to emulate those searing exploits in recent months but insists she isn’t feeling the pressure ahead of the home grass court season.

“It will be really cool,” she added. “Back at Wimbledon was the first time I really experienced that massive home crowd feeling. I’ve been really fortunate because every tournament I’ve been to I’ve received great support.

“But there’s nothing like playing at home. There are enough people who can do that job for me [being hard on yourself]. I’m still 19 and I’ve already won a Grand Slam so I can take my time and really put things in place.

“I don’t think anyone would say I wish I didn’t win a Grand Slam at 18, but that’s what I set out to do. For it to happen so soon it came with a lot of challenges, but managing and learning through those adversities has been important.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website.

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