Tennis fans are desperate for Emma Raducanu to return to the form which saw her win the 2021 US Open — and couldn’t help but notice a remarkable change in her physique at Indian Wells.
The 20-year-old Brit had her 2022 season ruined by injuries and enlisted physical conditioning specialist Jez Green to help transform her body to the level needed for the rigours of the tour.
And from what fans saw at tennis’ so-called fifth major, the hard work is paying off.
Raducanu showcased a much more muscular frame in the desert as she progressed to the round of 16 before falling to world number one Iga Swiatek.
Tennis fans on Reddit couldn’t help comparing what they were seeing to how she’d looked just 12 months earlier.
“Step in the right direction if she’s gonna stay fit. Those shoulders look strong,” one wrote.
“Much more muscle mass,” added another.
“People are forgetting that she was only 18 when she won the US Open. In addition to training, she’s probably naturally growing and filling out as well,” added a third.
A fourth declared: “Her off-season work with Jez Green obviously paid dividends. Looks like a professional tour athlete now and not a junior.”
“Damn, looks like she’s been training,” wrote another. “Can’t wait to see what she’ll be bringing in 2023.”
“You can really see she’s put on muscle. I thought her legs were looking stronger than when she won the USO but it’s clear when you see a side by side like this,” wrote another.
Raducanu turned to Green as she looks to improve her ranking from world number 77.
He has most famously worked with tennis warrior Andy Murray for seven years during a span when he won the US Open, Wimbledon and Olympic gold.
But the fitness expert also earned rave reviews from Karolina Pliskova, who described a training block with Green as “life-changing”.
Raducanu reached a career-high ranking of 10 in mid-2022 after winning at Flushing Meadows as a qualifier.
But she was plagued by back and glute injuries in the second half of the year and lost in the first round in her title defence.
Swiatek remains the favourite at Indian Wells ahead of her quarterfinal against Sorana Cirstea on Friday morning.
But Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, who plays Maria Sakkari in a semifinal on Saturday, is looming large on the other side of the draw.
In the men’s, Daniil Medvedev’s sore right ankle wasn’t a factor Thursday as he beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals, as Frances Tiafoe also raced into the final four.
Medvedev showed little ill effect from the twisted ankle he suffered in a three-set battle against Alexander Zverev a day earlier as he pushed his ATP match winning streak to 18 straight.
He booked a semi-final clash with 16th-ranked American Tiafoe, who beat 2021 Indian Wells winner Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4.