Andrew Richardson – the British coach who steered Emma Raducanu to the US Open title – has revealed that he was sacked via a brief phone call from Raducanu’s agent a couple of weeks later.
The detail confirms that Richardson did not jump – as was often claimed in the aftermath of her unprecedented triumph. He was clearly pushed, in an unsentimental manner that is entirely typical of the tennis coach’s lot.
In the autumn of 2021, a number of vocal social-media accounts kept claiming that Richardson was more interested in coaching his own talented son Rocco – who is now 14 – than in following up on the extraordinary scenes that unfolded in New York.
Insiders suggested at the time that this was not the case, and that Richardson had hoped to negotiate a new deal, only to be rebuffed. But with the man himself rejecting all interview requests, the point remained moot.
Now Richardson has finally put that theory to rest. “The fact of the matter is that I had a nine-week trial contract that both Emma and I thought was a good idea to see how we would get on,” he told the Daily Mail. “It ran through to the end of the US Open, stopping immediately afterwards.
“There was a period of time after that when I was keen to re-negotiate the contract. I wanted to carry on, and I had a plan that I wanted to put in place for Emma. This thing about ‘I wanted to go off and coach my son’ is not true, but it seems to come up all the time.’
“After probably 10 days to two weeks [since the US Open] I didn’t have a contract. We were in the process of re-negotiating and then I got a brief call from her agent telling me they were going to go in a different direction, and that was the end of it.”
A 6ft 7in left-hander who reached the world’s top 150 in 1997, Richardson is remembered as a player with a big game and bags of potential. Yet his genial character may not have lent itself to the cut-throat nature of elite tennis.
His personality is perhaps better suited to coaching, and he has indeed taken a closer role in his son Rocco’s development of late. Soon after splitting with Raducanu, Richardson accepted a job as the head coach of the David Ferrer Acadamy in Spain, where Rocco is among the pupils.
“There were a lot of family logistics to think about,” said Richardson about the period after his deal with Raducanu ran out. “One son was changing schools and I had to find a tennis situation that worked for Rocco and I needed to find a job. Putting all that together was quite complicated, and there were still Covid restrictions around which made it even more tricky.
“Any parent with a child who is serious about their tennis will identify with the fact that it can be a complicated business and that a lot of sacrifices have to be made.”
Meanwhile Raducanu set out on what has been a bumpy road since her US Open triumph. Her win percentage is running at a touch under 50 in that time, but the biggest issue has been a lack of matches: just 51 in more than a year-and-a-half. She is currently recovering from wrist surgery (see below).
As for coaches, there was a sense of instability last year. Torben Beltz followed Richardson but left in April, whereupon a hiatus ensued. Jane O’Donoghue – a childhood mentor now working for the Royal Bank of Canada – provided informal support at Wimbledon.
Dimitry Tursunov then arrived in the late summer, only to depart with a parting shot about “red flags”. Raducanu hired the German Sebastian Sachs at the end of last year, but is now facing a lengthy lay-off after undergoing operations on both wrists and one ankle this month.
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