EMMA RADUCANU believes she will be in a “better headspace to compete” next year thanks to painting and piano lessons.
The 2021 US Open champion has not competed since undergoing THREE surgeries in May – one operation on her left hand, one on her right hand and one on her left ankle.
After months and months of repetitive rehab exercises, the 20-year-old has begun on-court training again and started the slow return to competitive action.
During a period away from the media spotlight and tennis tour, the Kent star has spent time with friends abroad, learned how to paint and tickled the ivories with her mum’s extended family in China.
Whenever she does officially return – and it is likely to be some point in the New Year – Raducanu reckons she will be mentally refreshed and recharged.
Raducanu said: “I really wanted to expand what I do off the court because obviously when you’re playing you have little to no time to do anything.
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“So, it was nice to have some time off to do new things and new skills that I had never done before or tried before.
“I learned one piano song in literally like four days. I’d touched the piano once when I was 10 in China.
“Never in the UK because I don’t have a piano. But my cousin has always played so whenever I go back to China, I’d try it. And this time I actually gave it a go.
“I’m just aiming to get back to tennis as soon as possible without rushing it.
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“Because I know that when you rush things, you set yourself back a little bit.
“I know it’s going to be difficult when you haven’t competed for a long time, like almost a year.
“So for sure it’s probably going to take me some tournaments to get back into it and up to speed.
“But once I do, I think I’m in a better headspace to compete now.”
Raducanu – who has slumped to 284th in the world rankings due to inactivity – has played five tournaments this year, winning just five of her 10 matches, one of which included an early retirement.
After losing to Coco Gauff in straight sets in the Australian Open second, Raducanu was forced to miss the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open due to the injuries.
Speaking to Prime Video, she said: “I didn’t watch any of the US Open.
“When the Slams were happening, it was too raw. You know the feeling of playing, you know the feeling of walking out on to court, so it was a bit close to home so I stayed away from the US Open.
“Initially after my surgeries, it was difficult to train.
“For example, if it was just the wrist, you could run or still do other things. In the beginning it was very much quite sedentary.
“But for the whole period I’ve been doing a lot off the court, just reading a lot.
“I feel like mentally I’m in a better place to compete now than I have ever been since the US Open win.
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“It was really nice to finally get back on court for training. And then you really realise how much you’ve missed it. How much you have been itching to go.
“I think it makes the off-court exercises easier to do because you actually see a reward for it. Rather than just doing it and doing it and doing it with no reward.”
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