The first significant tournament since Emma Raducanu won the US Open has confirmed two things, one of which is that players and coaches have been studying her.
That much was evident in the way Aliaksandra Sasnovich played in knocking her out, showing that even those ranked No 100 in the world can be a danger.
A second aspect confirmed by events in Indian Wells is that it has become nigh on impossible to predict anything in the women’s game.
Players and coaches have been studying Emma Raducanu ever since her US Open win
The 18-year-old’s first significant tournament back since the US Open proved to be just that
It will have been less widely noticed than in New York, but not one of the top eight seeds made it to the quarter-finals here.
Sunday’s final will feature the world No 32, Victoria Azarenka, against the No 27, Spain’s Paula Badosa.
That even seems to have spread to the men’s division, although October is often a month that sees unpredictable results.
Saturday night’s men’s semi-finals had the unlikely figure of Cameron Norrie as the highest-ranked male left in the tournament, as he tackled Grigor Dimitrov, to face either American Taylor Fritz or Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.
It was evident in the way Aliaksandra Sasnovich (above) played in knocking her out last week
As it stands, Raducanu is still looking for a new coach that holds lots of WTA Tour experience
Following her late withdrawal from this week’s Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Raducanu’s thoughts have switched to the Transylvanian Open in Romania which follows, and the acquisition of a coach.
The pursuit of a new mentor is clearly a subject of interest, yet it is possible that other people are attaching more importance to it than she and her father Ian do.
Before her appearance at Indian Wells she pointed out that ‘at the end of the day you’re out there on your own and you have to be your own coach on the court’. She is also well known for doing her own research into opponents.
According to a well-placed source, one of the issues that has arisen in the search for a new coach is the amount of money potential candidates are asking for. They are looking at the high expectations for a player in an environment which can see anyone beat anyone. Few jobs in the sport will come with more scrutiny to deal with.
The kind of names that have been associated with the position include Argentinian Carlos Rodriguez, Australian Darren Cahill and Spaniard Esteban Carril.
Raducanu split with coach Andrew Richardson (left) following her shock victory in New York
All of them will know that the job expectancy of coaches in women’s tennis is not long. Carril, for example, split with Jo Konta in 2016 only weeks after she had been named most improved player of the year, with him having turned her into a top-10 player.
This year Raducanu has already made two coaching decisions which came as a shock to outsiders.
Nigel Sears, one of the most experienced and respected of his profession, went after Wimbledon. Andrew Richardson departed for the opposite reason, that he did not have long-standing knowledge of the elite end of the women’s tour. Now that she has moved on a long way from what happened at SW19 this summer, Sears might fit the bill again.
It should be remembered that the chopping and changing of coaches is not unique to Raducanu, nor to the women’s game as a whole. Something equivalent happened in the case of Greg Rusedski, after he had stormed through to the final of the US Open in 1997.
Brian Teacher, the coach who had helped get him there and had successfully rebooted his previously suspect backhand, was dispensed with only weeks later.
Jo Konta famously split with her coach in 2016 only weeks after she had been named most improved player of the year, with him having turned her into a top-10 player on the WTA Tour
Many of the coaching changes which happen as part of the annual merry-go-round occur at the end of the season.
So it is possible that more candidates will come on the market soon and that would still offer time for some serious work together ahead of the Christmas departure for Australia.
In the longer term, whoever is appointed may see the biggest challenge as improving Raducanu’s game on clay.
While her skills should be equipped to deal eventually with all conditions, it is the surface on which she has had by far the least exposure.
She only played the French Open juniors once, losing in the second round. It is a measure of her broad inexperience that she has yet to even play a professional match on clay, on which some of the tour’s most important events are played.