Emma Raducanu has turned to a Russian coach to guide her as she begins preparations for her US Open title defence next month.
The Kent teenager is working with former Davis Cup player Dmitry Tursunov, who will be with her when she returns to action next week at the Citi Open in Washington DC.
If their initial spell together – which was confirmed to Sportsmail by her management – goes well he will take her through the coming North American swing of the main tour. A year ago saw her playing lower tier tournaments before exploding to prominence at Flushing Meadows.
Dmitry Tursunov is a former World No 20 player with a reputation for practical jokes on the tour
Tursunov is a former world number 20, who has had considerable success with clients on the circuit since retiring as a player in 2017.
Most recently he took current Anett Kontaveit of Estonia into the world’s top five before they split after this year’s French Open.
Raducanu burst onto the scene after a stunning US Open triumph last year
He has also worked with another top five player in Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, plus world doubles number one Elena Vesnina and Russian Aslan Karatsev from the ATP Tour.
Raducanu, always happy to take advice from wide-ranging sources, has not had a full-time coach since she finished with German coach Torben Beltz in late April.
In the intervening period she has received guidance from a number of figures, such as Canadian Louis Cayer, Head of the Lawn Tennis Association’s women’s division Iain Bates, and during Wimbledon former LTA coach Jane O’ Donoghue.
During an extremely solid career on the ATP Tour Dmitry Tursunov always had a reputation for being a something of a character and practical joker.
He wrote a well-followed blog entitled Tursunov Tales, detailing life on the circuit and the things he would get up to, such as hiding Roger Federer’s racket bag before a match.
After reaching number 20 in the world he has gone on to enjoy success in coaching. As he put it in a recent interview with tennis.com: ‘Sometimes I enjoy acting like an idiot, but I really know what I’m talking about and I’m passionate about it.’
Born in Moscow 39 years ago, the sport has been his life since moving to the United States at the age of twelve to pursue his dreams.
He now has the serious task of trying to take on US Open winner Raducanu, who since dramatically winning the Flushing Meadows title has shown only brief flashes of that form.
The Russian previously partnered up with top five player Anett Kontaveit and Aryna Sabalenka
His coaching style is said to be forthright, but it has produced excellent results for aggressive baseliners Kontaveit and Sabalenka.
Raducanu has been hindered by repetitive injuries, which have highlighted the fact that she missed out on some physical development while focussing on completing her school education.
A side strain suffered at Nottingham almost kept her out of Wimbledon where, looking underpowered, she was well beaten by France’s Caroline Garcia in the second round.
Since then she has kept a decidedly low profile, but Sportsmail understands that earlier this month she travelled out to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Much of the work she has done there has been of a purely physical nature, as she attempts to catch up with that side of the game ahead of what is a crucial run of tournaments.
All being well she is likely to play in Washington, the Canadian Open and Cincinnati before heading to New York. There she will have to defend a mammoth 2,040 ranking points, adding to the pressure already of being the defending champion.
Raducanu’s form since her stunning Flushing Meadows victory has been plagued by injuries
Tursunov has the job of trying to further extract the undoubted potential of the British number one, who currently stands at number ten in the world.
In the sometimes confusing carousel of WTA coaching, he is working with Raducanu while his last player, Kontaveit, has hired Torben Beltz, who was dispensed with by the GB player back in April.
The Russian – who was the last player Tim Henman beat at a Grand Slam before retiring in 2007 – would not have been barred from Wimbledon this year, as the ban only extended to players and media.
During the tennis.com interview he gave a hint of what Raducanu can expect: ‘You need to have the other person agree with the process, and you have to find better ways of communicating and getting your point across. And, of course, players are quite sensitive – they’re one of the best in their fields. It’s about showing them they have room to improve.’