Emma Raducanu has claimed that the Novak Djokovic affair has taken the spotlight from Andy Murray reaching his first ATP Tour final since 2019. The build-up to the first Grand Slam of the year has been overshadowed by the visa drama surrounding the world No.1.
And the British No.1 said: “I feel like the situation has taken away a little bit from the great tennis that’s been happening over this summer in Australia. For example, Andy Murray, he’s in the final tonight, which I think is pretty incredible. To see him come back and win and play so well, definitely rooting for him later on.”
Raducanu also revealed she was unable to train for 20 days because of Covid in her build-up to the Australian Open.
The 19-year-old will play her first Grand Slam since her New York triumph in Melbourne starting on Tuesday. She faces fellow US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the best tie of the opening round.
But the Bromley teenager contracted Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi last month and spent some “tough” days confined in her hotel room. Raducanu’s return to action saw her beaten 6-0 6-1 in only 55 minutes by Elena Rybakina in the Sydney International last week.
And the world No.18 said: “The first few days were tough. I was happy to come out of isolation. Obviously preparations haven’t been ideal. But in the last week, I have really enjoyed playing here. I couldn’t train before. If I had trained too much I would have got injured. Practice is heading in the right direction.
“It’s a challenge to try and find the balance of wanting to get out there and practice so much straight after coming out of isolation, but if you ever do it with the hours after not doing anything for 20 days, you always start picking up small niggles.
“I’m just trying to find that balance. The first week I wasn’t able to practice so much. But after Sydney, the match, it was just good to see where I was at that point in time. Afterwards I went out to sharpen up a few things on the practice court.
“I’m actually feeling like there’s progress. All I want to see is that I’m getting slightly better and I have a better feeling. I think that gradually I’m getting there.”
Raducanu struggled for form after her New York triumph and has now won only two matches in four events since. But for the Australian Open last year, she was back home in Bromley studying for her A levels.
“To be here in Australia, I was watching from afar last year,” she said. “I just feel very grateful to have this opportunity to play here. “For me I think it’s going to be a very cool experience to play here in the main draw for the first time. I played a few years ago in the juniors (2019). Coming back here playing in the main draw so soon, I feel quite proud of this achievement.
“It is a bit of a different feel because back then we weren’t allowed in the main area. It’s quite fun to see and look around. Yeah, looking forward to getting out there.“
The Formula One fan also welcomed the announcement that Netflix are to film a series about tennis to promote the sport.
“I think ‘Drive to Survive’ was great for the sport because I feel like a lot of people started following F1, got very involved,” she said.
“A lot of my friends who never watched it before, they watched it and were suddenly following every week. I think that’s been great for the sport. I enjoyed watching it personally. This one I’m sure will be good, too.”