September 20, 2023

Emma Raducanu part ways with fifth coach in 18 months

Sebastian Sachs and Emma Raducanu - Emma Raducanu part ways with fifth coach in 18 months - Getty Images/Paul Crock

Sebastian Sachs and Emma Raducanu – Emma Raducanu part ways with fifth coach in 18 months – Getty Images/Paul Crock

Emma Raducanu has separated from her coach Sebastian Sachs after just five and a half months of collaboration.

Sachs, who was appointed last December, is the latest coach to serve a brief tenure in the Raducanu camp.

Telegraph Sport understands the decision was mutual, but it comes weeks after the former US Open champ underwent three surgeries, including on both wrists, and revealed she will be sidelined until September.

“I really enjoyed Seb’s coaching and working with him. It is unfortunate that circumstances made it unfeasible for both of us to continue now and we have decided to part ways,” Raducanu wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a photo from her and Sachs. “I wish Seb all the best in the future.”

When Sachs assumed the role, he became the fifth coach to work with Raducanu in 18 months, joining the likes of Nigel Sears, Andrew Richardson, Torben Beltz and Dmitry Tursunov.

The coaching merry-go-round has been a worrying feature of Raducanu’s short career, and she’s been unable to establish a stable partnership since she made the decision to drop Richardson just weeks after he helped her to glory to lead in New York.

Emma Raducanu and Andrew Richardson - Getty Images/Al Bello

Emma Raducanu and Andrew Richardson – Getty Images/Al Bello

Twenty-year-old Raducanu’s time at Sachs was fraught with injuries. She played just 10 times on tour in half a year, recording five wins and five losses – including one retirement.

Raducanu has struggled with her fitness since winning the US Open and has barely been able to string together consecutive matches without showing a physical ailment.

As a result, she dropped out of the top 100 last month, and surgeries on both her hands and one ankle prevented her from missing the French Open, Wimbledon, and likely most of the remaining 2023 season.

Her split from German-born Sachs, whose previous experience included coaching reigning Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, is another blow to her plans to come back stronger from surgery.

The course of Raducanu: five coaches and one ‘invisible mentor’ in two years

Nigel Sears: June-July 2021

Coaching veteran Sears had a short-term deal to lead Raducanu to her first WTA grass season. Sears was previously the head coach for women’s tennis at the LTA and it is clear that he was pushing behind the scenes to get Raducanu a wild card into Wimbledon. Having previously worked with Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic, he had a wealth of experience to draw from and was in the corner of Raducanu for her remarkable run to the fourth round on her debut. He stepped away, as planned, ahead of the North American swing tour.

Andrew Richardson: July-September 2021

Richardson coached Raducanu to the most unlikely US Open title on her first attempt – and was controversially stripped almost immediately afterwards.

Raducanu said at the time, “I really need someone right now who has had that high-level WTA Tour experience.”

Last month, Richardson spoke out for the first time since the split, revealing he was fired via a quick call from Raducanu’s agent a few weeks after New York. He said suggestions that he had chosen to leave after his nine-week contract expired were incorrect.

“I was keen to renegotiate the contract,” he said. “I wanted to keep going and I had a plan I wanted to carry out for Emma. That thing about ‘I wanted to leave and coach my son’ isn’t true, but it seems to come up all the time.’

Raducanu’s decision to pull out of the partnership was met with criticism from some of the sport’s most influential personalities, including American veterans John McEnroe and Chris Evert. During a two-month period between their farewells – and not for the last time – Raducanu coached herself at events in Romania and Austria, recording two match wins out of four.

Andrew Richardson Celebrates Emma Raducanu's US Open Triumph - Emma Raducanu's US Open Winning Coach Reveals The Truth Behind Their Breakup - Getty Images/Elsa

Andrew Richardson Celebrates Emma Raducanu’s US Open Triumph – Emma Raducanu’s US Open Winning Coach Reveals The Truth Behind Their Breakup – Getty Images/Elsa

Torben Beltz: November 2021 – April 2022

In November 2021, Telegraph Sport revealed that Raducanu had appointed Germany’s Torben Beltz, former former coach of three-time grand champion Angelique Kerber. Beltz was meant to stay for the long haul, but that didn’t happen.

Raducanu’s off-season training block was ruined when she got Covid, and had her physically impaired throughout the season and her time with Beltz was marred by many physical ailments and gnawing injuries that prevented her from playing at full throttle. Ultimately, Beltz was fired after less than six months.

After Raducanu parted ways with Beltz, she shared that she would receive advice from a number of different trusted voices, rather than appointing a full-time coach.

She traveled to Madrid with Louis Cayer in her corner, the LTA’s doubles coach, and to Rome with Iain Bates, the LTA’s head of women’s tennis during a clay-court season marred by more injuries, this time a back problem. Raducanu admitted that sometimes she wished she had someone to tell her what to do: “Sometimes I feel like I need a voice to, you know, just hold my hand, [say] ‘Do this, do that.’”

Jane O’Donoghue: Wimbledon 2022

Raducanu’s youth coach Jane O’Donoghue returned to the training grounds at the All England Club in the week leading up to Wimbledon.

O’Donoghue, a former player and LTA coach, had previously aided Raducanu’s development from age 13 t
o 17, but traded her tennis career for the city and works for the Royal Bank of Canada. She has been described as an “invisible mentor” who supports Raducanu’s behind-the-scenes, coming to her aid before Wimbledon, the season’s highest-profile event.

Raducanu struggled with a stomach problem prior to Wimbledon, but with O’Donoghue in her box, Raducanu looked relaxed and completely at ease.

Dmitry Tursunov: August 2022-October 2022

Raducanu has appointed Russian former top 30 player Tursunov for a trial period. Tursunov had experience working with a number of top players, most recently Annett Kontaveit, and had a no-nonsense approach.

Although her US Open title defense ended in the first round – ahead of an inspired and in shape Alize Cornet – there were positives from the summer, including victories over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka plus a quarterfinal appearance at the Citi Open in Washington, DC.

But more injury woes – this time the first signs of a problem in her wrist – led her to pull out of the Transylvania Open in the fall and then Tursunov made a swift exit.

His comments since leaving the Raducanu camp paint a mixed picture. He glowed in his assessment of her, both as a person and as a player, calling her “obsession” with tennis a “rare” attitude combined with her natural ability. But he pointed to “red flags” during contract negotiations that he says ultimately motivated his decision to end his time at Raducanu.

Raducanu enlisted off-season fitness trainer Jez Green, a man widely believed to have taken Andy Murray’s athleticism to the next level at his peak, to help with her physical issues.

Russian coach Emma Raducanu left because of 'red flags' in her camp - Robert Prange/Getty Images

Russian coach Emma Raducanu left because of ‘red flags’ in her camp – Robert Prange/Getty Images

Sebastian Sachs: December 2022-June 2023

Sebastian Sachs became the last to join the Raducanu team late last year. His experience with a number of top players – including Victoria Azarenka and Belinda Bencic – fits the bill, which Raducanu says is always a priority for her when looking for a coach.

However, he never really had a chance to make a huge impact, as in just five and a half months, Raducanu suffered from fitness issues and only played 10 matches on tour.

The three surgeries she underwent last month wiped out any chance of her completing the clay or grass season and will sideline her until at least September and it seems Sachs and her camp saw the layoff as the natural time to to break up. The search for coach No.6 of her short career begins now.

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