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US Open: Emma Raducanu has become a household name in Britain after her magical summer | Tennis News

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Emma Raducanu takes on 11th seed Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals of the US Open in just her second Grand Slam tournament

Emma Raducanu takes on 11th seed Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals of the US Open in just her second Grand Slam tournament

Emma Raducanu takes on 11th seed Belinda Bencic in the quarter-finals of the US Open in just her second Grand Slam tournament

Britain’s Emma Raducanu is in a city where dreams are made of. Can she end her fairytale of New York with a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open? If this teenager can make it here, she can make it anywhere.

Raducanu is eager to show she is a genuine contender for the women’s singles title at Flushing Meadows when she walks out for her quarter-final clash against Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic.

The 18-year-old from Kent has steamrollered her way through the qualifying campaign and main draw without dropping a set.

Now the extraordinary possibility of reaching a maiden Grand Slam semi-final looms large, albeit, world No 12 Bencic is by some distance the highest-ranked player Raducanu has ever faced.

It is incredible to think that Raducanu had just sat her A-Level exams in maths and economics at Newstead School in Orpington a couple of months before making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance at the Nottingham Open.

She was ranked a lowly 338 in the world and with just one Tour-level match under her belt.

She lost 6-4 6-3 to compatriot Harriet Dart in the first round before making the quarter-finals of a lower-level tournament at the same venue the following week. That persuaded Wimbledon to offer her a wild card into the main draw.

“You see special when you see it for the first time, you know that you’ve got something special, and she’s one of those people. It’s not hype, it’s real”

Martina Navratilova on Raducanu

She went on to become the youngest British woman to reach the second week at the All England Club in the Open era, beating Vitalia Diatchenko, 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova and Romanian Sorana Cirstea to reach the fourth round.

“It’s incredible. I’m so grateful for this wild card,” said Raducanu. “Honestly, I just wanted to make the most out of it, try to show that I earned it, try to make the most out of it. I’m really grateful for the All England Club’s support in taking a chance on me.

“And the way that I’m approaching my matches is each time I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why not?’. Like today, I was like, ‘Someone has to be in the second week, why not me?’. I think that’s how I’m approaching it.”

Against Ajla Tomljanovic on Centre Court, Raducanu struggled with her breathing and was forced to retire. Social media erupted when John McEnroe questioned whether the occasion “got too much” for her, while Andy Murray and television personality Piers Morgan were at loggerheads over it.

It was a perfect example of how harsh the media spotlight can be as her resolve was questioned.

But Raducanu took everything in her stride and continued her tennis tuition by going Stateside, but not before parting ways with Nigel Sears to join up with Andrew Richardson, one of her youth coaches.

“Andrew is a very good coach,” said Raducanu at Flushing Meadows. “He is extremely experienced having played himself. He knows the ins of the game and what it takes to perform as a player from a player’s perspective. He’s very good at instilling the fundamentals into my game and just making me realise doing the basics to a really good level is going to take you a long way.

“He’s also a very calming character. So sometimes if I’m getting intense or too fired up or expect too much from myself, he’s very, very good at just relaxing me and reassuring me.

“I’m really glad to be working with him.”

She lost her opening match of the hardcourt campaign at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose to China’s Zhang Shuai, before retiring from her ITF W100 Landisville quarter-final against Nuria Parrizas-Diaz.

The teenager responded by making the Challenger final in Chicago, but Raducanu lost in three sets to Danish teenager Clara Tauson.

“She’s really good in all departments. She serves great, her groundstrokes are fantastic, her concentration is good, physically she is strong – she really has it all. She is going to win Grand Slams, for sure”

Virginia Wade, US Open champion in 1968, on Raducanu

The ease of Raducanu’s progress through the US Open draw has been remarkable, losing just 15 games so far, but, as impressive as she has been, she has also been fortunate in the opponents she has faced.

Throughout her run to the fourth round at Wimbledon and the last eight here, Raducanu has yet to face a top-40 opponent – an unusual occurrence for an unseeded player.

She had been due to meet last year’s semi-finalist Jennifer Brady in the first round at Flushing Meadows only for the American to make a late withdrawal through injury, meaning lucky loser Stefanie Voegele took her place.

Born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother, Renee, and Romanian father, Ian, the family moved over to Bromley, south London when she was two. It was perhaps inevitable Raducanu would have a career in professional sport, given the way her father pushed her as a youngster.

She started off attending ballet classes, but her father decided sport was the way forward and had his daughter do horse riding, swimming, tap dancing, basketball, skiing, golf, go-karting and motocross, all alongside her tennis practice.

Raducanu has some sort of form at the US Open, having made it to the 2018 juniors quarter-finals. She won the first ITF junior title she was allowed to compete in, aged just 13 and her first ITF professional title in Israel in May 2018.

She has now gone all the way from the qualifying rounds to the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, but has bigger dreams.

Raducanu achieved an A in maths and an A star in economics, while her performances in New York have guaranteed she will rise to at least 74 when the rankings are next updated. Another victory could see her overtake Johanna Konta and Heather Watson to become British No 1.

All of this and she doesn’t even turn 19 until November.

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