London | Hopes to host BJK Cup finals and a revival of Raducanu
Great Britain pushed the Czech Republic, 5th in the table, in a decisive double this weekend before losing 3-2 and relegating the team to the Play-Offs in November for a chance to qualify for the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup competition, unless the LTA is successful in its bid to host the 2022 final, which comes with a home country wild card.
Emma knows, her team knows, that we have always been and will continue to be there to support her. It will be, in some ways, a very difficult year, a difficult summer for her, in terms of profile. Only a year ago, she passed her baccalaureate! Emma must try to find what works for her in terms of navigating the tour and traveling. Scott Lloyd, ALT Managing Director
Although this is against normal practice, with a nation having two chances to win the women’s team competition, these are unusual times.
“We want to try to broaden the visibility of our sport throughout the year, to really make it clear that it’s not just a summer sport in Britain,” said Scott Lloyd, chief executive of the LTA. “We believe that the visibility of high-level tennis is helping to change this perception.
“We want to try to support the Billie Jean King Cup. If we are successful, it will truly bring a tennis festival to Britain in the fall.
“We know there is an inherent bias in the visibility of women’s sport, which we want to try to change.”
It looks like an ITF decision on the venue for the final won’t be announced for several weeks but, with Glasgow already hosting a Davis Cup group stage in September followed by the Laver Cup at The O2, an offer success by the LTA would mean an exceptional autumn of tennis for the fans.
The group stage of the Davis Cup Finals by Rakuten 2022 will take place in 4 cities, Bologna, Glasgow and Hamburg from September 14 to 18, with another city to be announced before the draw on April 26, followed by the phase knockout round in Malaga from 21 to 27 November.
The Laver Cup will take place at London’s 02 Arena from September 23-25, but fans are shocked at the price of tickets for the Europe v Rest of the World competition, which Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have pledged to attend.
Both will represent Team Europe in a bid to win the Laver Cup against Team World for the 5th time in a row under captain Bjorn Borg.
Nadal and Federer teamed up for their first and only doubles match at the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague in 2017, delighting fans with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing the longtime rivals become teammates to beat Americans Sam Querrey and Jack Sock in 3 sets.
“I suggested to Roger that we should play doubles together in London and he seems enthusiastic, so now we just have to persuade our captain Bjorn!” Nadal said after winning the Australian Open in January.
Federer, however, has been out of competitive tennis since Wimbledon last summer, in a season in which he played just 5 events and won only 9 matches, 4 of which were at Wimbledon itself.
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Meanwhile, this summer, Emma Raducanu’s replica US Open trophy will be paraded around the country in the run-up to Wimbledon as the LTA is keen to show off the silverware to help inspire youngsters.
“We have also discussed with Wimbledon how this can be highlighted during the Championships,” Lloyd said.
“It’s going to be a very difficult year for her, profile-wise,” Lloyd added. “Only a year ago, she passed her A Levels.
“You saw her sailing last summer with incredible maturity. It is a learning experience.
After his first BJK Cup experience on the match court, Raducanu is set to reunite with coach Torben Beltz this week with an eye on how best to approach the swing on clay for the first time.
Physically hampered by blisters on her feet contributed to a passive defeat on Saturday at the hands of the very experienced Marketa Vondrousova, a 2019 French Open finalist and Olympic silver medalist.
If Raducanu can recover in time, she will take her place in the main draw at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart this week, which is owned by her new sponsor.
Next are the WTA 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome before the French Open, where Raducanu will make his senior debut.
Back on British soil in June, the 19-year-old is set to play the WTA event in Birmingham, with Nottingham and Eastbourne also possibilities, before making her return to Wimbledon, the scene of her breakthrough into public consciousness with a race to the 4th lap last year.
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It heralded a remarkable rise for the teenager who, according to the first set of accounts from her company, Harbor 6 Limited, had just £44 in the bank before pocketing £1.8million for winning the US Open last September.
The company was set up in February 2020 with Raducanu as sole director, and accounts covered the period to February 2021, showing it held total assets of £55,682, but also revealed creditors owed £54,888 , while an additional £750 was deducted as “provision for liabilities”, leaving a net asset of just £44.
According to reports, Raducanu is now worth around £4.1million, which is remarkable for the world No.338, who first appeared on the radar at Wimbledon, and has since risen to No.12.
Expectations are now high for the 19-year-old, who has ranking points to defend and sponsors to satisfy, not to mention fans to appease.
Lloyd, determined to give to the LTA, will give her all the support she needs as she seeks to adjust to life on the WTA Tour.
“Emma knows, her team knows, that we have always been and will continue to be there to support her,” he said. “It’s going to be, in some ways, a very tough year, a tough summer for her, profile-wise.
“Only a year ago, she passed her A Levels!
“Emma has to try to find what works for her in terms of navigating the tour and traveling.
“She has a long way to go to start finding herself and learning what works for her, to deliver peak performance.
“She knows what she wants to try to do. She’s an amazing tennis player. I’m sure she will enjoy many more successes in the years to come.
© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong said over the weekend that Raducanu needed to get tougher.
The British No. 1 impressively beat the more experienced Tereza Martincova 7-5 7-5 in her first professional match on clay on Friday, but stood no chance against Vondrousova, who was hampered by blisters, as the Czech claimed an emphatic 6-1. Victory 6-1.
Raducanu needed a medical timeout at the end of the first set and limped through the second before eventually losing in straight sets.
Earlier this season, Raducanu was hampered by blisters in her right hand at the Australian Open, suffered a thigh problem in Mexico and then suffered a back problem in Indian Wells.
“It takes time for a player to get used to life on the tour and to get tougher, and she definitely needs to get tougher,” Keothavong said. “I don’t think it’s a secret and she’s working on it.
“The more she pushes herself, the more she continues to test herself against the best. She will find a way that works for her.
“Before the game we knew she had a blister, but it got progressively worse during the game,” added Keothavong. “There was no indication that anything was telling us that she couldn’t play or that she wasn’t ready to go out there and give her best.”
While Harriet Dart then beat Linda Fruhvirtova to send the tie in a decider, Team GB nearly completed a comeback after Vondrousova and Karolina Muchova beat Dart and Katie Swan to bring the Czech team the crucial 3rd point .
“I’m really proud of all the players and the team effort that was put in this weekend,” Keothavong concluded. “The fact that we led until the decisive game shows how much guts and courage the players had today.
“Overall, we got closer, but we didn’t make it.”
And maybe they’ll have another bite to eat if the LTA can secure the bid to host this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
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