Raducanu prepares to lead GB against Czech Rep in Billie Jean King Cup

‘I have no toenails!’: Emma Raducanu reveals her feet have borne the brunt of training on clay as she prepares to lead Great Britain in Billie Jean King Cup on unfamiliar surface

  • Emma Raducanu has never played a professional match on clay before
  • Her feet are feeling he effects of trying to get up to speed on unfamiliar surface
  • She leads Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup against the Czech Republic 
  • Britain’s weakness on clay is likely to be exposed yet again over next two days 

The wrecked state of Emma Raducanu’s toenails are testament to the latest new instalment of her career that begins on Saturday.

Somewhat incredibly, the US Open champion has never played a professional match on clay, but that will change when she leads Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup against the Czech Republic.

Her feet have borne the brunt of two weeks trying to get up to speed on a surface that she has not competed on since the French Open junior event of 2018.

Emma Raducanu (front right) is preparing to play the Czech Republic with Great Britain 

‘I have no toenails. It’s just my foot, my shoes, they’ve just been sliding around a lot,’ she said, ahead of a playoff match whose winners will be guaranteed a passage into the 12-team Finals event in November.

This time last year Raducanu was finishing off her A-levels after a school career which limited her exposure to the same grounding experienced by her peer group.

It is one more part of her tennis education that will need completing, along with the fact that she has never played a senior representative match for her country before.

At this stage she is someone who thrives in quicker conditions, hitting the ball quite flat, but in time she believes she will master the brown dirt.

‘I feel like I do like sliding, and once I time it right and spend more time on clay I’m sure this could be a really good surface for me. I feel like I have got a lot more potential physically.

‘I’ll learn more about it over time. I feel like I can really use it and play aggressive whilst also being able to move well.’ In keeping with a now-established pattern, Raducanu likes to draw on different coaching sources and after Miami spent a week at the academy in Northern Italy run by renowned tennis mentor Ricardo Piatti.

She explained that the move was due to her current coach Torben Beltz taking a break. ‘Torben had been travelling for weeks and weeks and he went on holiday with his kids, so I thought I might as well take the opportunity to go to Italy in and spend some more time on the dirt. It was just a good experience to see how other places operate,’ she said.

Up against a country which has arguably the strongest tennis culture in the world, certainly among women, Britain’s weakness on clay is likely to be exposed yet again over the next two days.

The British star will be up against it as the Czech Republic are a formidable outfit 

The Lawn Tennis Association have never got to grips with properly investing in the surface which is the most demanding to play on and the best teacher.

There are absences and injuries affecting either side, but the Czechs have such strength in depth that they can still call on two top fifty players to play singles.

Their number one is Marketa Vondrousova, the current world number 32 who made the final of the 2019 French Open. Raducanu beat her on grass last summer in her Wimbledon run, and it would be something fairly remarkable if that was repeated in this environment.

Friday 1130am (UK) : Harriet Dart (101) v Marketa Vondrousova (32), followed by Emma Raducanu v Tereza Martincova (50). Saturday: Raducanu v Vondrousova, Dart v Martincova, followed by doubles.

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