Raducanu may have blown it as rival benefits from ‘Tursunov effect’
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Emma Raducanu may have made a mistake in losing Dmitry Tursunov as her coach, with the Russian coach proving to be a valuable addition to the team of rival Belinda Bencic. Tursunov famously walked away from the Raducanu camp after a trial period and started working with the Olympic gold medallist, who has now gushed over “the Tursunov effect” on her results.
Raducanu famously took Tursunov on for a trial period last summer, with their work together lasting through the US hard-court swing and three more events in Slovenia, Korea and Ostrava before the 20-year-old was forced to shut down her season early with an injury. It was then announced that the former ATP No 20 had walked away from the Brit a few days after her last match of the season in Ostrava.
The British No 1 has since hired Sebastian Sachs as her coach, initially undergoing a trial period at the end of 2022 and the start of the season which appears to have carried on. But she may be kicking herself after letting Tursunov leave her team following comments made by his new charge Bencic, who has won two titles since hiring the Russian last October.
“I read a lot about ‘The Dmitry Effect,’ so maybe it’s that,” the world No 9 told the WTA, discussing her improved form after winning the Abu Dhabi Open earlier this month. “Just staying really tough and disciplined and tough mentally. I’m really working on that right now, to stay calm and to stay positive.”
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The Olympic champion admitted that she had already seen a difference in her results just two months into the season, adding: “I think it’s really going better than last year. I had some ups and downs and also like mentally I just felt like okay either it’s going in or out, there’s nothing in between. So now I’m really giving myself a chance.”
Meanwhile, Tursunov shared his own ethos on working with Bencic as he said: “When people say, ‘working hard,’ they think it’s like moving a lot of heavy weights and things like that and what she’s been really doing well is applying and trying new things, giving herself a chance of taking something completely new, something that she doesn’t really know if it’s going to work or not but she’s actually giving it a chance.
“And for her it’s pretty tough, she’s a pretty conservative person in that sense. So for her to do something new, something that might backfire… There are a lot of things that can stop you from venturing into a new territory. She’s been pretty brave with that; so that allows her to implement new things a little bit quicker into her game.”
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Tursunov’s strategy had also appeared to work on Raducanu during their trial stint, with the world No 81 defeating multi-Grand Slam champions in Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka back-to-back at the Cincinnati WTA 1000. She then made her first – and so far only – semi-final since winning the 2021 US Open at last year’s Korea Open. But the former coach of Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit revealed shortly after their split that there were some “red flags” in Raducanu’s team that forced him to end their work together.
“I was walking away from Emma regardless of whether there was another [player] available or not. We didn’t agree on the terms and there were some red flags that just couldn’t be ignored,” the 40-year-old told Tennis Majors shortly after he ditched the Brit and started working with Bencic.
But Tursunov didn’t take the decision lightly and said he had tried hard to make their partnership work, adding: “Our trial period was over at the US Open but I stuck around, trying to see if there was going to be a way to impress the team. I really wanted to make it work. I felt like there were going to be problems later and I wanted to avoid them for my own peace of mind.” And Raducanu may regret letting external problems force Tursunov to leave as he continues to prove his ability as a coach with Bencic, who has started 2023 with a 14-2 win-loss record.
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