Emma Raducanu pulls out of exhibition match with ‘soreness’

Emma Raducanu with a tennis racket
Raducanu has a place in the main draw at the Australian Open, which starts on Sunday - Getty Images/Hannah Peters

Emma Raducanu pulled out of a charity match on Tuesday night due to “soreness”, as she gears up for the Australian Open later this week.

With just five days to go until the action begins in Melbourne, Raducanu had been due to play on Rod Laver Arena against Naomi Osaka in front of paying fans.

Former world No 1 Osaka withdrew from the match first and was replaced at the last minute by Croatian player Donna Vekic, but Raducanu then decided she did not want to risk pushing her body after waking up “a little sore”.

The decision to cancel her appearance means she has only one further charity match scheduled for this week, against Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva, before the Australian Open begins on Sunday.

The move is said to be completely precautionary, especially as Raducanu is still managing her return to competition after eight months sidelined by injuries last season.

There were question marks about her fitness last Thursday, as in her tight three-set loss to Elina Svitolina in Auckland she appeared to be experiencing some lower back pain in the latter stages. But she has been hitting the practice courts in Melbourne consistently since.

Cavaday to coach Raducanu in Australia

Whereas her childhood coach Jane O’Donoghue guided her through her two matches in Auckland, another blast from Raducanu’s past was pictured on court with her this week.

British coach Nick Cavaday, who has known Raducanu since she was 10, has arrived in Melbourne and will be coaching her throughout the first slam of the year.

Cavaday, 37, was head coach at Bromley Tennis Centre when Raducanu was a youngster and he helped oversee her development as a teenager. He has also held various positions within the LTA, including head coach of Loughborough Academy until last March.

As reported by Telegraph Sport in December, the pair spent time working together in Roehampton at the National Tennis Centre late last year, before Raducanu flew out to New Zealand for the first tournament of the season. Cavaday then linked up with her when she arrived in Melbourne late last week.

Raducanu’s unstable coaching situation has been the source of much scrutiny during her short career. Her representative Max Eisenbud told The Tennis Podcast last summer that she may spend her whole career switching between coaches. She herself said in an interview last October that her previous short-lived working relations with coaches was partly down to them being unable to keep up with her rigorous questions.

During her injury lay-off she opted against installing a permanent coach and worked closely with various LTA personnel. However there is talk that this partnership with Cavaday could be one that lasts beyond the upcoming Australian Open.

Beyond the coaching, how her body holds up to the intensity of a major event will likely be the key to her progress in Melbourne.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.