By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent
Emma Raducanu has made staying injury free and playing fearless tennis two of her big goals for 2023.
The former US Open champion has not played a competitive match since early October because of a wrist injury but is fit and ready to go again and will make her season debut against teenager Linda Fruhvirtova in Auckland on Tuesday.
The wrist problem, which kept her off court for two months, was the latest in a string of injury issues that hindered Raducanu in her first full season on the tour last year.
It did enable her, though, to begin her pre-season training early and focus purely on the physical work that her struggles last year showed was lacking.
Raducanu has been working with Andy Murray’s former physical trainer Jez Green, and she told wtatennis.com: “Jez is really good, he’s obviously so experienced, he’s worked with some of the top players, he’s been there through the journey with a lot of players who were young and then developed into top, top pros.
“It’s amazing to have him in my corner and helping me out. We’ve just been focusing on strength, cardio and just improving all round.”
Raducanu showed encouraging signs in a narrow loss to world number two Ons Jabeur in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi last month before continuing her training in Singapore and then heading to New Zealand.
Currently ranked 78 but with few points to defend, Raducanu, who also squeezed in receiving an MBE from the King and attending the World Cup final, is hoping 2023 can be the year when she establishes a stable base and begins climbing back towards the top of the game.
She said of her off-season work: “I think right now, because I’m still trying to find my timing and groove and my tennis, it’s a bit early to tell. But once I settle into that I think the physical side will definitely have made a difference because there’s no way it can’t have.
“But I’m also not ignorant in thinking two months is going to solve my entire physical condition, it’s going to take more time, over a year or two to redevelop.”
Raducanu is trialling another new coach in German Sebastian Sachs after spells with Torben Beltz and Dmitry Tursunov both proved short-lived.
She said: “For 2023 my goal is to stay healthy for longer. I’m looking forward to working hard because I’ve got a better idea of what to expect now. So I’ll be less like a deer in the headlights.
“For a results goal I’d say it’s to win a title, and three I’d say is to be playing fearless tennis. Just not thinking about consequences. Just going for it.”