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Emma Raducanu ahead of French Open Grand Slam: I could be great clay-court player; preparations normal after back injury

"I could be a great clay-court player, like looking forward in a few years where I have definitely developed more robustness and I'm able to repeat the same shots over and over. I have come a long way and probably progressed faster than expected in the last few weeks." - Emma Raducanu

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Emma Raducanu says she is learning about her body and that she has progressed on a clay court faster than expected ahead of the French Open

Emma Raducanu says she "could be a great clay-court player" as she prepares for her French Open debut this month, adding her prep has been normal after returning from a back injury. 

Raducanu, who played on clay professionally for the first time last month, will meet a qualifier in her opening match at the clay-court major.

Despite her limited experience on the surface at the elite level, she reached the quarter-finals in Stuttgart and the last-16 stage in Madrid.

"I could be a great clay-court player, like looking forward, long, medium-term, in a few years where I have definitely developed more robustness and I'm able to repeat the same shots over and over," she said.

"I think I have definitely come a long way and probably progressed faster than expected in the last few weeks and I really am enjoying the clay. I really believe that I can be good and faster than I thought it would be."

The 19-year-old Briton struggled with a back injury during the WTA 1000 tournament in Madrid and then pulled out in Rome while trailing against Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Emma Raducanu receives treatment on court for a back injury that forced her to retire from her first-round match
Image: Raducanu was forced to retire from her first-round match in Rome due to the back injury

On Friday, she declared herself fit for Roland Garros.

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"I'm learning about my body but I'm very happy to be continuing my preparations for the French Open and to be able to play this tournament and fortunately I didn't have to miss this Grand Slam," Raducanu added.

"That is definitely a really positive thing because I really look forward to these big moments and the big tournaments. After Rome, I definitely had to slow down, but this week I have been training and luckily being able to practise all of the shots.

"I'm looking forward to continuing that, and it feels good to be able to move freely and just like run around. It's quite fun. I have been preparing as normal the last few days."

Swiatek relaxed as she looks to extend winning run

Image: Iga Swiatek celebrates on her way to Italian Open success last week

World No 1 Iga Swiatek is the overwhelming favourite for the French Open but says she is feeling relaxed and has nothing to prove as she prepares for the Roland Garros fortnight.

The Pole, who is in the opposite half of the draw to Raducanu, rocketed to fame when she won her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris in 2020 and has since reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and reached top spot in the rankings.

The 20-year-old arrives in Paris on the back of an incredible 28-match winning streak having won her last five tournaments - proof she fully deserves to have inherited the No 1 crown Ash Barty held until the Australian announced her shock retirement in March.

"I'm more relaxed. I don't know about being nervous, because usually it comes closer to the match, so we will see. I'm going to keep you updated," Swiatek told a news conference on Friday.

"But I'm more relaxed, because I have so many [ranking] points and I feel like my position in the WTA is already like, you know, I have worked for it.

"Already I've kind of proved to myself and to other people that I can be in the top of the game. Before I wasn't feeling that much confidence, so this year I feel much more peace."

Swiatek will start her campaign against a qualifier on her way to a potential fourth-round encounter with 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the hard-hitting Latvian who was the last player to beat her, in Dubai in February.

Swiatek's title defence ended in the quarter-finals last year at Roland Garros when the tournament was back in its early-summer slot after the 2020 edition was postponed until the autumn because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conditions this time will be far different to the slow and damp conditions that Swiatek mastered in 2020.

"They were different. The clay was more wet. Balls were pretty heavy. So it was different, for sure. It's pretty hard to take experience from that," she said.

"But for sure I'm taking the experience of the whole process, and playing seven matches in two weeks, having the routines. And also like getting to know how it is to go higher and higher in a Grand Slam.

"These kind of experiences help me not only for other Grand Slams but for many tournaments."

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