Olympic champion Monica Puig can "sympathise" with Emma Raducanu's recent struggles with the 20-year-old having dropped down to world No 77 having shocked the tennis world by winning the US Open as a qualifier in 2021, but believes she can win more Grand Slams in the future
Tuesday 7 February 2023 15:50, UK
Rio Olympic women's singles' champion Monica Puig has warned Britain's Emma Raducanu against the "toxic" nature of social media but believes she can repeat her sensational US Open title success in 2021.
Raducanu shocked the tennis world by winning at Flushing Meadows as an 18-year-old qualifier but life for the Bromley ace has not been a bed of roses since her victory.
Having shot to superstardom, the British No 1 has seen a revolving door of coaches, battle coronavirus, blisters and a number of niggling injuries, while her body is still adjusting to the demands of competing on the WTA Tour week in, week out.
Former tennis star Puig can see a resemblance between her historic Olympic gold medal for Puerto Rico at the Rio Games in 2016 and Raducanu's rise to fame and can "sympathise" with her recent struggles.
"I saw her many times courtside during the US Open when she did win that title and she is a very talented player," said Puig, who announced her retirement from tennis, citing injuries last summer.
"Physically, she's still very young. I'm not going to say she's already a very established player with a lot of experience. She won that US Open title having not played many WTA events and she hasn't had a full calendar.
"She still needs time to develop and time to find out who she is as a tennis player, who she is as a person and I can sympathise with her because when I won the Olympics it came out of nowhere.
"I didn't have as much media attention as she does and I can only imagine coming from the UK where something like that is so big. It just exploded."
You're not going to have everybody who loves you. You're going to have those who are not going to like you
Raducanu is currently working with her fifth different coach, Sebastien Sachs, who guided Belinda Bencic to Olympic gold and has also worked with former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and Germany's Julia Gorges.
Andy Murray's former physical trainer Jez Green has also worked alongside the 20-year-old during the off-season.
Puig believes it's vital for Raducanu to have an established and settled team in place for her to set her future goals.
"Not necessarily big ones because she won that Grand Slam title, but she hasn't been able to string many results together in a row," said Puig.
"Let go of the expectation after winning a Grand Slam. First it's small goals so quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals consistently of 250 events. Maybe win a couple more matches in a row and work on things on the court. See your opponents. What are they doing to you? Where are the holes in my game and start filling in those holes by practising more on those things. It can take the pressure off her back."
Puig has also warned Raducanu against social media, although the British No 1 is an avid user of the tool and has helped boost her brand since her US Open title success with a sponsorship portfolio that includes Nike, Wilson, HSBC, Porsche, Vodafone, British Airways, Evian, and Dior.
"Don't focus on social media because we all know that social media is a great tool to boost your brand but it can be toxic especially for a person like Raducanu who has so many people following her and so many people who want to see her succeed and also a lot of people who don't," said Puig.
"You're not going to have everybody who loves you. You're going to have those who are not going to like you.
"She has a great future ahead of her if she is able to settle herself but once she does and she organises herself in the way that works for her, she can end up making great strides and doing some really great things. Now it's just about that consistency day in, day out and believing that she can do it again."
Remember the reason why your started playing tennis in the first place. It's because of the love of the sport.
"I'm not saying she needs to leave social media alone altogether because part of being a tennis player is having to deal with all these endorsements that have come her way and she deserves that because she won a Grand Slam title," Puig continued.
"Those endorsement deals come with obligations and if you don't meet those obligations the brand is not getting what they need out of you. The brand does need you to perform on court so you're exposed, you're out there, you're promoting their things.
"You can make more money off the court than on it, but on the court it's important to focus and dedicate all your time to your craft because that's what got you there. At the end of the day, wins equal dollar signs and new contracts.
"That's what I ended up seeing in my own career, so I'm speaking more from experience. It's a fine balance because I'm not saying don't do it altogether because honestly, it's impossible at this point. She needs to do these obligations contractually but focus on the tennis and the work and then do that.
"It's about putting your life in order, having a schedule, sticking to that schedule and then finding time for other things."
Former players and many current coaches believe Raducanu's US Open success was not a flash in the pan with Puig certain she can do it again.
"Absolutely! She's still young. It's a matter of time. We're always seeing generational changes with so players like myself and Serena Williams having now stepped away. The new generation that's going to come and carry the torch for the future generation," said Puig, who will run both Boston and London marathons on 17 and 23 April, respectively.
"Yes, she is going to be in that circle of names that are going to be a force to be reckoned with. She just needs to settle, find her ground and take the pressure and expectation off because she already did something that not many people can do.
"Remember the reason why you started playing tennis in the first place. It's because of the love of the sport."