Tim Henman has long been one of Emma Raducanu’s biggest fans and the former British number one has now praised the US Open champion once again.
Raducanu was competing in her first Australian Open this year and first Grand Slam since her historic triumph in New York last year.
The teenager came through a tough opening match against former major champion Sloane Stephens but was knocked out in three sets by world number 98 Danka Kovinic in round two.
Throughout the contest, Raducanu struggled with blisters on her right hand and despite exiting the competition at such an early stage, the Brit admitted afterwards she was proud of the resilience she showed.
“I thought it was a pretty good learning experience for me,” she stressed. “I discovered tools about my game that I didn’t know I had before, so I can take some positives even from this match.”
The 19-year-old will now look ahead to the rest of the season and Henman says the Brit can take confidence from her showing in Melbourne moving forwards.
Speaking to Eurosport, he said: “It’s been a pretty challenging start to the year for Raducanu.
“But I loved her competitive spirit. I thought she did absolutely brilliantly to come through the match against Stephens, and I’m sure that would have given her a big boost of confidence just to get that match under her belt, but then she had another spanner in the works with blisters on her hands [against Kovinic].
“So it’s been hard, but I love her attitude. I love her work ethic. There are going to be lots of opportunities ahead for Raducanu.”
The US Open champion is yet to win a tournament since her victory at Flushing Meadows but Henman believes people aren’t considering the Brit’s inexperience on tour.
“I think it’s a similar conversation with a lot of young players like Jannik Sinner or Carlos Alcaraz. We need to be patient.
“Emma is the least experienced of all these players, she’s barely played a handful of professional tournaments and is only in her third Grand Slam.
“Yes, she’s already won one, but she certainly needs time to develop and learn her trade and improve all aspects of a game and if she does that, then sure, she’s going to win many more big titles in the future.”
The next Grand Slam of the year will be at the French Open at the end of May. Raducanu is yet to play a clay court season and little is known of her ability on this surface.
Henman, however, has urged for time to be given for the Brit to adapt and gain more experience.
“Given her performances on other surfaces, people are less inclined to give her time elsewhere, but the reality is, she’s so inexperienced, so I think for me, certainly over the next 12 months, the keyword is going to be patience.”
For now, though, Raducanu is focused on the rest of the hard-court season and improving her fitness ahead of her first full year on tour.