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Emma Raducanu critics should not be ‘malicious’ over her career, insists agent

Emma Raducanu of Britain reacts during a match against Ons Jabeur of Tunisia at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open tennis tournament, in Abu Dhabi/Emma Raducanu critics should not be 'malicious' over her career, insists agent
Emma Raducanu's comeback remains short on momentum two months after she underwent surgery - Kamran Jebreili/AP

Emma Raducanu’s agent has said “people should not be malicious” in their judgment of her post-US Open career, which remains short on momentum two months into her post-surgery comeback.

Speaking on the Served With Andy Roddick podcast, Max Eisenbud said: “The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were.

“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Raducanu (right) puts on a brave face after her straight-sets defeat by Anhelina Kalinina, of Ukraine, at the Qatar Open/Emma Raducanu critics should not be 'malicious' over her career, insists agent
Raducanu (right) puts on a brave face after her recent straight-sets defeat by Anhelina Kalinina, of Ukraine, at the Qatar Open - Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Eisenbud’s comments come a fortnight after Raducanu attracted criticism for arriving in Doha less than 48 hours ahead of her first-match at the Qatar Open, in which she was thumped 6-0, 7-6 by Anhelina Kalinina.

After that match, Raducanu said: “I need to practise training outside a bit more because it’s very different. Also with the lights, conditions and shadows, it’s really hard to kind of see the ball towards the end.”

Yet Raducanu had reduced her possible opportunities to practice on site in Doha by remaining in Dubai – the venue of her previous tournament – for four days after she had been eliminated by Ons Jabeur. Towards the end of that stay, she was pictured with model Naomi Campbell at the opening of the One&Only One Za’abeel hotel.

Emma Raducanu and Naomi Campbell at the opening of the One&Only One Za'abeel hotel in Dubai/Emma Raducanu critics should not be 'malicious' over her career, insists agent
Raducanu was criticised for remaining in Dubai, where she was photographed with Naomi Campbell (right) at a hotel opening, rather than fly to Doha to prepare for the tournament - Dave Benett/Getty Images Europe

During his interview with Roddick on the Served podcast, Eisenbud described the process by which he had worked out the corporate-commitment schedule for his first and most famous client, Maria Sharapova.

“I put a line through all the weeks when she was playing tournaments,” said Eisenbud. “Then I put a line through all the weeks before a tournament, and the three or four days afterwards. We worked out that she had 16 days a year that would not interrupt her becoming a great tennis player. We did as many blue-chip deals as we could with the best brands, and we never went above 16 days. That 16 days I brought to Emma and I brought to Li Na [Eisenbud’s other major client].”

Despite a ranking that remains on the wrong side of 250 – thanks mainly to last year’s seven-month lay-off following wrist and ankle surgery – Raducanu has become one of sport’s most marketable names. Forbes recently placed her at No 4 in its list of the best-paid female athletes in 2023, with an estimated income of £12 million. Raducanu is expected to be among the wild card entrants to Indian Wells when the list is announced on Friday.

During the podcast, Eisenbud described how he capitalised on Raducanu’s US Open triumph. “We were just enjoying the ride until the quarters, and then once she got to the quarters, I said to my team, ‘We need to get our s--- together here. This is happening.’ So we got pretty organised with our sales team, said ‘Let’s try to get some brands out to the US.’

“A lot of people think that when it happens, we’re just sitting and waiting by the phone. But any brand that is calling us, is usually not the brand [we go with]. We’re identifying the brands we want our clients want to be associated with. So let’s just say we called Dior and we’re like, ‘Are you watching this? Why don’t you guys come out and watch.’ After she won the final, she had seven or eight outfits waiting for her and she got to pick which one.

“The only way I can describe it is that everything was moving so fast. One of the things that was important to me is that she wasn’t leaving a site until she had done an interview in Chinese. That opened up a whole other avenue of who she is.”

Emma Raducanu (right) and coach Nick Cavaday/Emma Raducanu critics should not be 'malicious' over her career, insists agent
Raducanu seems settled with Nick Cavaday (left) after a rapid turnover of coaches. The pair worked together during her youth in Bromley - Robert Prange/Getty Images

Another issue that came up in the interview was Raducanu’s rapid coaching turnover, which has already seen five splits in her short career. For the moment, she seems to be comfortable with Nick Cavaday, a childhood mentor from her time as a junior at Bromley Tennis Centre in south-east London.

“I say to myself and I say to them [the Raducanu family], ‘If the media is only ripping you on who your coach is, when you keep coaches then we’re gonna be in a pretty good situation,’” Eisenbud said. “But that’s how they do it.

“As the agent, do I necessarily agree with it? I don’t. But it seems to work for her. And as the agent we can only try to recommend and say, ‘Hey, this one did it this way.’ But they seem to be very comfortable in the way they are doing it and I have to respect that. Maybe that changes and maybe it doesn’t. But she really is a hard worker. And tennis is her priority. Yes, people want to see that she does other things. But the way I see her work and how smart she is, I believe she’ll win more slams.”

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