Former British tennis star Mark Petchey has advised Emma Raducanu to ‘get after’ Serena Williams in their mouth-watering Cincinnati Masters match-up on Monday. The pair are due to meet on court for the first time with a matter of weeks left in Williams’ glittering career, having announced her intention to retire earlier this month.
Williams revealed that she plans to ‘evolve’ away from tennis amid suggestions that she will walk away after the US Open, which kicks off on August 29. The American is hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time having scooped up an eye-popping 23 Grand Slam titles, including six on home turf.
Raducanu has also experienced success at Flushing Meadows with her only Grand Slam triumph coming at the US Open 12 months ago. Despite the tournament hosting Williams’ probable farewell, plenty of eyes will also be on the Brit as she bids to defend the crown she won last year in unlikely circumstances.
In the meantime, fans will be treated to a match-up between the pair that offers plenty to get stuck into. Petchey, who reached a career-high ranking of 80 in the 1990s, has told Raducanu to stay true to the style that brought her initial success.
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“Emma’s way of winning a Grand Slam was one way and I don’t think she should be looking for a different way right now,” he told the Tennis Channel. “If she doesn’t take it to Serena, I’m completely with Andy [Roddick].
“I thought that Serena played great against [Belinda] Bencic, it was just a bad match-up. But at the end of the day I think if she gets time on the ball, she’s going to be a very difficult player to dislodge from the draw.”
Williams and Raducanu will battle it out to face either Victoria Azarenka or Kaia Kanepi in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. The American was emotional after crashing out of the National Bank Open in Toronto earlier this week at the hands of reigning Olympic champion Bencic, admitting she’s ‘terrible at goodbyes’.
Raducanu, meanwhile, was disappointingly toppled in the first round of the same tournament as Camila Giorgi came away with a convincing victory. Before that, the 19-year-old went on an encouraging run at the Citi Open that saw her reach the quarter-finals thanks to wins over Louisa Chirico and Camila Osorio.
“[Pressure] is only either what I put on myself or what I expect from myself,” Raducanu told Sky Sports last week. “I only feel the pressure or think about it whenever I’m in my press conferences because every single question is about pressure.
“I’m really looking forward to just going back [to New York] and whatever happens I think that it’s going to be a nice close to a chapter, go full circle. Regardless of whatever the result is I can just start again, clean slate. If all my points drop off then I’ll work my way back up.”