Indian Wells: James Blake’s supportive words for injury doubt Raducanu, before her Kovinic clash

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain during practice on Day 3 of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 08, 2023 in Indian...

Emma Raducanu’s participation at this year’s Indian Wells Masters 1000 event looked in serious jeopardy, having withdrawn from scheduled tournaments and exhibitions on the eve of the competition. She’s received some positive words of support before her first-round match against Danka Kovinic later today (from 8pm BST), from the Miami Open tournament director and former world no. 4.

Blake: She’s getting better, continuing to make progress

James Blake comments for ESPN day 12 of the US Open 2022, 4th Grand Slam of the season, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on...
Blake on commentary duty for ESPN at last year’s US Open

Dominic Thiem and Emma Raducanu, who won the US Open title in 2020 and 2021 respectively, have been granted Miami Open wildcards later this month.

Both have struggled with injury and recapturing their best form since then, but James Blake’s recent comments serve as a reminder just how young the latter still is – having celebrated her 20th birthday in November.

Per the Miami Herald, the tournament director said:

“Raducanu is such an incredible story, what she did at the US Open taking the world by storm like we hadn’t seen since Maria Sharapova winning Wimbledon at such a young age and becoming a media phenomenon.

It’s been a bit of a struggle since then, but realistically for her age, she’s getting better, and just happened to have one of her greatest performances at one of the biggest events on the calendar.

She’s continuing to make progress, we’re happy she’ll be in Miami. With the success she’s had on hard courts, hopefully she’ll feel comfortable here.”

Raducanu was slated to play an exhibition tournament’s mixed doubles competition alongside British no. 1 Cameron Norrie in the Eisenhower Cup overnight Tuesday, though organisers announced she withdrew without providing details.

Her first-round matchup against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic – world no. 66 – marks a first tour-level appearance since losing a competitive straight-sets clash against American teenager Coco Gauff at the Australian Open on Jan. 18.

Raducanu ended her 2022 season prematurely after sustaining a wrist injury in October and didn’t shy away from detailing just how arduous her rehab was to recover from an ankle scare in Melbourne and play two rounds of Grand Slam tennis.

Meanwhile, a bout of tonsilitis saw her withdraw from the Austin Open late last month. In training session pictures published today, she has strapping attached above both sweatbands on her wrists, suggesting a recurrence of said wrist issue.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain in a practice session during the BNP Paribas Open on March 08, 2023 in Indian Wells, California.

During an interview with BBC’s Russell Fuller, she later acknowledged as much.

“The same issue that I had last year has started to flare back up. I’ve definitely been managing my load, it’s something that has just come back, so I’m trying to be as cautious as possible.

I think we always play through pain and it’s just a matter of how much can you take – I’m looking forward to hopefully being out there.

It affected me bad for the short term so I haven’t prepared much – probably never felt so sick in my life. When it rains, it pours. This and the infection, it’s obviously a challenge. My preparation hasn’t been ideal, I played on the weekend and then rested it, it’s how you manage when you’re not prepared.”

Kovinic leads their H2H 1-0, having beaten Raducanu 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at last year’s first Major – a match where the Brit was hampered by blisters. The winner will play Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette [20] in R2, who has a bye.

Buoyed by her Flushing Meadows success and a high tournament seed… Raducanu benefited from a bye last year before beating Caroline Garcia, but lost in three sets against Croatia’s Petra Martic in the last-32 at this tournament twelve months ago.

Picture source: Getty Images