New coaches on the horizon for Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray
Emma Raducanu announces that Torben Beltz will be the coach to see her through the off season and on to Australia
It is the last gasp of a particularly challenging 2021 tennis season, a season that began with enforced quarantines for the Australian swing, delayed starts to some of the spring events—many still played behind closed doors as the coronavirus pandemic remained an unwelcome presence around the world—and shunted the French Open a week closer to Wimbledon.
There was also the postponed Tokyo Olympics to accommodate in July, and Indian Wells popped up after the US Open rather than in the spring.
But tennis is a non-stop train, and while the players and their entourages try to make the most of the weeks between the ATP and WTA Finals—plus the Davis Cup—and the start of the next Australian swing, there are matters to be addressed away from competition.
In Emma Raducanu’s case, a narrow loss this week in Linz added the complication of a hip problem after a closely fought final set against Wang Xinyu, 6-1, 6-7(0), 7-5.
Although she was the top seed in a draw, the 18-year-old Briton only this week broke into the top 20 for the first time, from a ranking of 366 when she played her first main-tour match in Nottingham in June.
She was soon on the radar for a much wider audience with an outstanding fourth-round run at Wimbledon, and after a final finish at the WTA125 in Chicago, she launched herself at the US Open draw to come through qualifying and take the title—10 matches, 10 wins, and a ranking of 22.
Perhaps no surprise, for a young player of such limited experience, that tour wins have subsequently been hard to come by, and all the more so without a coach: She parted ways with Andrew Richardson after the US Open.
But she has been looking at her options, and finally announced after her Linz loss that Torben Beltz will be the coach to see her through the off season and on to Australia.
The German’s most prominent success as a coach was his partnership with Angelique Kerber during her barn-storming 2016, when she won both the Australian and US Opens, reached the final of Wimbledon, and rose to No1.
Beltz and Kerber have also worked together during 2021, but parted ways this autumn, and after a successful trial with Raducanu, will join the Briton’s team to prepare for 2022. Talking of her choice in Linz, Raducanu said:
“It’s obviously a great privilege to be working with such an experienced coach… [I have a] very, very positive feeling about all the work that is to come.
“I think he brings a lot of experience, he’s worked with Kerber, who’s such a great player, and that experience definitely works for someone as inexperienced as me…
“He’s a really positive, cheerful guy who brings a lot of energy to the team, so I think that’s so important when you’re travelling on the road for so long on the tour.”
One of the coaches to have a short trial with Raducanu since the US Open is Esteban Carril, but the Spaniard has joined the Andy Murray team this week as the three-time Major and two-time Olympic champion played his opening match in Stockholm.
Murray has sought input from a number of coaches through his long career, including high-profile former players, Amelie Mauresmo and Ivan Lendl. But a constant in his box since 2016 has been fellow Briton Jamie Delgado, who has worked with Murray through both highs and lows.
He was alongside Lendl when the Briton won the 2016 Wimbledon and went on to claim the ATP Finals crown and No1 ranking. But Delgado has also been a rock during Murray’s two bouts of hip surgery and long stretches away from competition.
Delgado will, then, remain on the team as Murray continues to work his way back to something like his old form—a road this year that saw the former No1 suffer both a positive Covid test at the start of 2021, and then a groin injury.
The familiar Murray battled to the third round at Wimbledon, and then suffered an opening five-set loss to world No4 Stefanos Tsitsipas after four hours and 50 minutes at the US Open.
In a run of tough draws, he scored a significant win over teenage star Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells, and then his first top-10 win this year against Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna. He will have the chance for another big scalp when he takes on world No10 Jannik Sinner in the second round in Stockholm.
Murray talked about his trial with Carril to the BBC:
“It’s another person with a fresh set of eyes and with a good reputation and good experience. That’s why I wanted to try it out and see how it goes…
“These last few years have been tough for me and my team. There’s been a lot of time spent together, but also a lot of difficult moments because of the nature of the injuries… I think having a little bit of space and distance is important.”
Murray’s work is not quite done for 2021: after Stockholm, he will join with brother Jamie in Aberdeen on 21-22 December for the Battle of the Brits, Scotland vs England.