September 30, 2022

Greek star Maria Sakkari thinks Emma Raducanu isn’t getting “enough credit” as she seeks to cement her place towards the top of the WTA Tour.

World number 11 Raducanu beat Sakkari on the way to her upset victory at the US Open last summer.

She has struggled for consistency since then, and this week was hit with another injury problem at the Nottingham Open, withdrawing from one game for the third time this season.

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Sakkari, who is the top seed at Nottingham, was something of a late bloomer as she won her first WTA title aged 23, and says 19-year-old Raducanu needs time.

“I don’t know her very well, but people don’t give her enough credit. She played well,” said the world No.5.

“It’s not easy, if you exclude the US Open, she’s 19. It takes time. The level at the WTA is very, very high, so it’s going to take time for her and every young player just to get used to the level.

“She had a three week tournament in New York and I think now what she’s doing is the right thing.

“It took me a long time because my breakthrough came later than other players. Everyone has different times to break through. For me, it took two or three years before I got used to it. on tour – it always takes time.”

Sakkari, who made the finals in Indian Wells and St Petersburg this year, opened her season on grass with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Camila Osorio in Nottingham.

Soon after, Raducanu retired after 35 minutes of his match against Viktorija Golubic due to injury. The British No.1 is expected to be fit for Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

Asked about the pressure that comes with success, Sakkari says she can relate to Raducanu.

“It’s not something you’re ready for – I felt like after Indian Wells became world number 3, I struggled a bit and it wasn’t easy to handle for me. It took a bit of getting used to being famous – it’s all about timing.

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“It’s different now when I go back to Athens, everyone is really nice but everyone knows you and you’re in the spotlight so you’ll be seen wherever you go.

“His breakthrough [Raducanu’s] was something unique and she has a bright future ahead of her. I think she played well and I don’t see why she won’t do well.

Raducanu has been plagued with injury problems this season.

In Australia, she was hampered by blisters on her hands before retiring with a hip injury in the longest match of the WTA season against Daria Saville in Mexico. She then had more blistering problems as she competed in the Billie Jean King Cup for Great Britain for the first time.

In Madrid, Raducanu said she felt she had a “5% chance of winning” against Anhelina Kalinina due to back pain, and at her next tournament in Rome she retired against Bianca Andreescu in the first round due to a back problem.

Talking about his latest setback, which is a side injury, Raducanu said it was ‘an absolute monster’.

Sakkari faces Rebecca Marino in the second round in Nottingham and is looking forward to the summer after a surprise second-round exit at Roland Garros.

“I’m very excited for the grass season this year – I haven’t had the results I wanted on clay and I think things happen for a reason and now I have a great chance to prepare for Wimbledon. “, she said.

“My goal is to try and win every tournament, so that’s my goal this week and then I’ll do it one tournament at a time.”

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