How Emma Raducanu can find her feet on clay

Emma Raducanu has been throughout tennis Twitter this week. Practising her sliding, enjoying a warm-up sport known as “Spikeball”, and dealing on her return of serve.

The attention-grabbing factor about these clips wasn’t what Raducanu was doing. Rather, it was the ochre-coloured background. She and the remainder of the British workforce are in Prague to face the Czech Republic. And the Czechs – not unexpectedly – have chosen clay as their most popular floor for the tie.

Now, everybody is aware of that British gamers are typically weak on clay. We simply don’t play sufficient on the stuff. But Raducanu takes inexperience to a brand new stage. Three weeks in the past, she was requested concerning the upcoming clay-court season, and replied “It’s gonna be interesting, because I haven’t played on clay in four years. I’m not sure how that will go.”

Playing an extended sport

How does clay differ from different surfaces? “You’ve got to be prepared to stick at it, to stay in the point longer,” says Nick Brown, a British commentator and former Davis Cup participant. “The floor slows the ball down in order that your good pictures come again. It’s bodily gruelling: extra arduous and draining than every other type of the sport. And that can find you out mentally a bit of bit.

“You can’t hit through people unless you have exceptional weight of shot, like a Maria Sharapova or a Jelena Ostapenko [who have both won the French Open in the last decade]. So you have to use the angles more, change the pace. The drop-shot is a massive thing on clay.”

All this couldn’t be extra completely different to the circumstances through which Raducanu prospered final year, first at Wimbledon after which on the US Open. Those are the 2 quickest tournaments of the season. They prioritise first-strike tennis, through which one robust shot – delivered early within the rally – tends to be decisive.

On clay, most gamers want to make use of a minimum of a one-two punch, working their opponent out of position to open up the area for a putaway. Clay-court maestros like Rafael Nadal are virtually like chess grandmasters in the best way that they assemble some extent.

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