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Abu Dhabi: As she continued her comeback to the tour following three surgical operations and an eight-month hiatus, tennis’ Emma Raducanu arrived in Abu Dhabi looking to build on a positive start to her 2024 campaign.

The 21-year-old former US Open champion kicked things off with two second-round appearances, in Auckland and the Australian Open – both her defeats were close three-setters – and she was feeling optimistic ahead of her Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open first-round match against Czech player Marie Bouzkova on Monday.

The Brit told Arab News: “It was a good first trip. I think I’m still in the stage of finding my feet on the tour, on the match court. I think it’s not going to come straight away.

“But I’m just enjoying practicing, I’m enjoying reassessing the practice that I do in a match, and then taking it back, adjusting, adapting. It’s a process and I’m still relatively new to it, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year goes.”

Raducanu exploded onto the scene as an 18-year-old, winning the 2021 US Open to become the first player in tennis history to clinch a Grand Slam singles title as a qualifier.

It remains the sole tour-level title she has captured, with injuries derailing her progress, and the sudden step up in competition level requiring significant time to adjust to.

As Raducanu searched for consistency following her breakout moment, she felt pressured to compete even when she was not ready physically, often taking to the court while injured.

On the pressures to play, she said: “They come from various sources but I think that is something that I did a bit too much.

“I chased tournaments, I chased points a bit too much, and I think this year I’m just taking my time in between, just not chasing tournament to tournament, running around. I’m just trying to work on my game and the results will come and follow that.”

It is a crucial lesson Raducanu is carrying with her on the comeback trail, and she has vowed to remain patient while working her way back up the rankings.

“I would love to win a tournament. That’s one goal, whether it comes this year or next year, I think that’s one of my goals. But also, just seeing my level improve and to just stay healthy the entire way through,” she added.

During her time recovering from surgery, Raducanu kept herself busy by getting in touch with her artistic side. She got into painting and playing the piano, and while returning to the tour has been making the most of her time off court.

She said: “I think everywhere that I go, I like to spend time immersing myself in the culture and just going around and trying to live as much like a local as I can.

“I’m really into reading right now, so I’m doing that a lot. That’s something I’m trying to keep up and read at least two books a month.

“I’m into art too, so wherever I can go check out a gallery, I do. In Melbourne I went to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), here I’m going to go to the Louvre (Abu Dhabi). So, I’m already setting up where I’m going to go,” she added.

Raducanu noted that she had recently read Robin Sharma’s “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,” which she found particularly enlightening.

On what she could perhaps have done differently to help better navigate her trajectory, she said: “Probably not chasing things. The cliche, don’t chase, once your level is there, you’ll attract the results, really rings true. I think also just keeping a small circle.”

The player has gone through her fair share of coaches over the past three years but has now reunited with one of her childhood mentors Nick Cavaday.

“I’m really enjoying it. I’ve known him since I was young, so it’s nice to have that familiarity sense. And then he took a break, he went to go work at the academies and I feel like coming back with him is a really nice feeling. We work pretty well together,” Raducanu added.

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