Emma Raducanu admits she has no TOENAILS due to intense training sessions as she prepares for pro debut on clay

EMMA RADUCANU makes her pro debut on clay on Friday – but admits she has destroyed her TOENAILS.

The US Open champion will lead the British squad into two-day battle against the Czech Republic in Prague in her first Billie Jean King Cup appearance.

The Kent ace, 19, last played competitively on the red surface FOUR YEARS ago when she lost in the second round of French Open junior qualifying.

But days of slipping and sliding during intense training has given her unhappy, sore feet.

Asked how the body was after some recent hip irritation, Raducanu laughed: “It’s okay – but I’ve no toenails now!

“It’s my foot and my shoes, they’ve been sliding around a lot. I had a small niggle in Miami but now I have no physical thing.”

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GB captain Anne Keothavong – who is aiming to qualify for the finals stage later this year – joked: “We’ve all been left a little scarred by the sight of Emma’s toes this week!”

In the absence of the retired Jo Konta, Raducanu is Britain’s major hope in this female team tennis tournament.

On Friday, world No.101 Harriet Dart will face former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the opening singles rubber – and then it’s Rads against Tereza Martincova.

Match-ups will be reversed on Saturday and Katie Swan and Sonay Kartal will be ready if needed for a decisive doubles clash.

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Despite her inexperience on clay, Raducanu believes it is a surface that she will grow to love and perhaps become a specialist.

The world No.12 spent time in north-west Italy recently training with renowned tennis guru Riccardo Piatti while her coach Torben Beltz took a family holiday.

She said: “This is going to be my first professional match on clay so I’m definitely learning.

“I feel this could be one of my strongest surfaces going forward. But of course its early days right now.

“I actually played a club league in the Czech Republic in Pilsen when I was 11 years old and had a fun time. It was one of my first trips abroad so I really enjoyed it.

“I did spend a few weeks on clay in the summer but I do like sliding, and once I time it right and spend more time on it then I’m sure this could be a really good surface for me.

“So, after spending more time on this surface, I’m sure I’ll time it better. I feel I can really use it and play aggressively whilst also being able to move.”

Having arrived last Monday in the Czech capital, the GB team have been spending their time off court playing a guessing game similar to Cluedo called ‘Murder’.

There is the strange possibility that if Britain are chosen to host the BJK Cup finals in November then they will nab a spot and this result will be redundant in the grand scheme.

Raducanu said: “This week has been very nice because tennis is such an individual sport.

“To be in a team atmosphere, especially this team, I feel like we’ve all been bonding really well and the support staff of course, they’ve been keeping us going behind the scenes.

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“They play a massive role and probably don’t get enough credit and I just love being in this team environment.

“We have these games that keep going on throughout the day and everything just amounts to a really nice atmosphere.”

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