Emma Raducanu faces the prospect of entering Wimbledon with just seven games of competitive grass-court tennis behind her, due to continuing injury concerns.
The US Open champion’s participation at next week’s Rothesay International in Eastbourne looks increasingly unlikely because of the side strain which put her out of the Nottingham Open last week.
The 19-year-old is said to have only returned to relatively gentle practice at the All England Club on Wednesday, and now has a deadline by which she must declare herself fit for the south coast event.
Raducanu, who announced yet another major sponsorship deal on Thursday with HSBC, has not formally entered Eastbourne and has until 4pm to declare if she wants to do so. While it has yet to be confirmed, a more probable outcome is that she rests up for longer.
If the British No 1 decides against playing then she will head into Wimbledon severely undercooked, having retired at 3-4 in the first round in Nottingham with an injury that is hindering her serve. Other than that, she has not played since losing in the second round of the French Open three weeks ago.
The only remaining opportunity to play would be an exhibition event at Fulham’s Hurlingham Club later next week. It is run by Raducanu’s management company, so adding her in for a warm-up match would not be a problem.
It is possible there might also be an appearance there from Andy Murray, who is reasonably confident he will have recovered from a stomach strain sufficiently to play at Wimbledon after pulling out of Queen’s.
Raducanu’s decision not to employ a full-time trainer and physio this year is perplexing. It is clear her extraordinary win in New York still left her with plenty of catching up to do in building a physique to withstand the pressures of high-level competition every week.
Certainly money is not an issue for her, as was further underlined when she unveiled what is expected to be her last significant new endorsement for some time.
Including her tennis gear, the four-year deal with HSBC takes her personal sponsorships to the brink of double figures at a time when her performances on the court will never be under more scrutiny. She is still on course to play at Wimbledon, but she may well have spent most of this grass-court swing hidden from view.