Tim Henman has praised British tennis star Emma Raducanu for her “fighting spirit”.
The 47-year-old made the comments after Raducanu’s first-round victory at the French Open.
She was taken to three sets by fellow teenager Linda Nosková, grinding out a 6-7, 7-5, 6-1 win. Raducanu will now face Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus on Wednesday.
Henman, who has long been a supporter of the US Open champion, only had positive words to say about the match.
“It was a great effort,” he told Eurosport. “Coming into the event off the back of pulling out in Rome, it seems [her back is fine] after question-marks over whether she’d play.
“She needed to be tough out there because her opponent was playing incredibly well, and was up a set and a break, but her attitude, her fighting spirit got her through that second set to give her momentum. That’s a positive sign.”
Raducanu has struggled with fitness issues since her improbable victory at Flushing Meadows in September.
She was hampered by her back at Indian Wells, the Miami Open, Madrid Open and Italian Open, and was forced to retire from her first-round match at the Guadalajara Open with a hip injury.
Blisters have been another issue for Raducanu, particularly at the Australian Open and Billie Jean King Cup.
In an attempt to strengthen her body and prevent more injury, Raducanu has been increasing her time in the gym. Henman agreed that this was a good tactic.
“Her physicality has to catch up with her tennis ability, which is in no doubt,” he said. “She needs to build that foundation to give her a bit more resilience.
“Though when you reflect on her journey, it has been such a whirlwind she hasn’t really had the opportunity, so hopefully she can build that and the results follow.”
Raducanu is playing at her debut French Open, and only the fourth Grand Slam appearance of her career. The 19-year-old told reporters that she felt her fitness was improving.
“One thing that I have been doing in the lead-up for this week and the whole of last week, I was doing a lot in the gym,” she said.
“A lot before practice, after practice, just keeping all the muscles fired up. It’s something I probably haven’t really done before, train through tournaments.
“Yeah, I am pretty pleased with how I was out there physically, and I feel really good, to be honest.”