STUTTGART, Germany -- In a season of first experiences, Emma Raducanu is embracing the challenge of the clay. The reigning US Open champion earned her first pro-level win on clay over the weekend, where she made her Billie Jean King Cup debut for Great Britain and is now preparing to play her first clay-court tournament on the Hologic WTA Tour at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
The 19-year-old set the social media world alight on Monday when she took to the practice courts at the Porsche Arena sporting a personalized Tottenham Hotspurs kit.
"My whole team basically are big Spurs fans and I feel like they're egging me on," Raducanu told reporters at Media Day in Stuttgart. "They're desperately trying to get me behind them. I don't necessarily follow football so much, but I feel like now because of them I'm feeling some sort of connection.
"I loved following the Euros last year and watching Harry Kane, who's obviously the England captain, and Son, I'm a big fan of him as well. So yeah, I like to dabble."
Things you love to see 👌 https://t.co/QoL4ymZXnR— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 18, 2022
Seeded No.8 in Stuttgart, Raducanu is set to face Australian qualifier Storm Sanders in the first round. The Brit has never played a clay-court tournament on either thee WTA or ITF Tours, but tallied her first win on the surface over Tereza Martincova over the weekend.
"It gives me confidence for sure because I played Martincova, who's a great opponent, in Prague, which is her home place," Raducanu said. "It was a heavy clay court. Conditions were cold. So to get that win definitely gave me a lot of confidence. She's a great opponent.
"It's going to be an exciting clay season. I'm not sure how it is going to go. I keep telling everyone around me that one day clay is going to be my surface and I still believe that."
Raducanu grew up idolizing Simona Halep and Li Na, and she is confident her game will translate on clay over time. Experience has been the watchword for Raducanu ever since her incredible three-week run through the US Open last fall. As she works to adjust her game to the clay, Raducanu is focusing on her patience and physicality.
"I think game-wise on clay, especially when you're playing outside, you definitely need to be a lot more patient and build the point," Raducanu said. "You can't just hit a big shot. Whereas on a hard court, you might be able to get a weak shot straight away. You really need to build the point a lot more, which takes a lot more energy and physical demand.
"You just have to be more crafty, I think, and I think it's a good lesson, especially for someone younger like me to develop more skills. I'm looking forward to spending more time on the clay as the years go by because I do like sliding and moving on it, and it's just about again being able to repeat over and over."
Clay not only offers Raducanu an opportunity to continue to develop her game, but also a chance to do so with tempered expectations. Raducanu's rise has come with elevated expectations that can be difficult to ignore. But the sensible Brit refuses to fall into the trap of letting those externalities dictate her progress.
"I definitely went through a lot of situations that I was not expecting and took a lot of adjusting to, and I'm still trying to really figure out what works for me," Raducanu said. "I don't think it's an easy sort of process because I feel like my tennis - I just have like a Grand Slam win under my belt - but everything else is the same. It's just I've got a tournament under my name.
"I don't know how much your game can necessarily change in three weeks, so I still feel like I've got a lot of development to do in my game itself. And although I had three great weeks to build that sort of consistency, I definitely need a lot more time and patience."