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Emma Raducanu picks highest-class hitting partner to prepare for Serena Williams showdown

Daily Express logo Daily Express 14/08/2022 Tom Parsons
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Emma Raducanu has been preparing for her showdown with Serena Williams by hitting with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on the practice courts. The talented Briton has been drawn to face Williams in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters on Monday.

Raducanu burst onto the scene last year as she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in her first Grand Slam appearance. She then stunned the tennis world by winning the US Open at the age of 18 just weeks later. But she has since struggled to make an impact on the court as she has suffered a string of disappointments in the early rounds of tournaments.

Raducanu is set to launch the defence of her US Open title later this month after first turning her attentions to the Cincinnati Masters, where she will be looking to put a strong run of form together.

The 19-year-old is facing a huge challenge just to progress to the second round in Cincinnati as she faces one of the best players in the history of the game. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles throughout her illustrious career and is known for her big-hitting attacking style of tennis.

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Emma Raducanu © GETTY Emma Raducanu Elena Rybakina © JEFF WALLNER Elena Rybakina

And Raducanu is obviously taking the match-up seriously as she has been pictured exchanging shots with Rybakina in preparation for the clash. The players practised under the scorching sun in Cincinnati on Saturday, with Raducanu's new coach Dmitry Tursunov also present.

Rybakina was in imperious form in SW19 as she stunned world No 5 Ons Jabeur in the final to win her first Grand Slam title. The 23-year-old came back from a set down to beat her opponent 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 and became the youngest Wimbledon singles champion since 2011. And the Kazakhstan ace will be vying for the Cincinnati Masters title and the US Open title along with Raducanu.

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Emma Raducanu (left) and Dmitry Tursunov © TUMAINI CARAYOL Emma Raducanu (left) and Dmitry Tursunov

Williams, meanwhile, was forced to spend 12 months away from tennis after injuring herself at last year's Wimbledon. She returned to the court at this year's tournament at the All England Club but was knocked out in the first round. And she has since revealed that she plans to retire from the sport after the US Open.

"I've been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis," she wrote in Vogue. "It's like a taboo topic. It comes up, and I start to cry. I think the only person I've really gone there with is my therapist. I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

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