She is 16 but plays like an adult. That is the verdict on Emma Raducanu, the teenage tennis player who shocked the world yesterday when she won the US Open girls’ singles final. Girl power was in the air in Flushing Meadows, Queens, when the world No. 111 from Romania beat No. 112 American Sofia Kenin in straight sets to win her first major title.
What do you think of Emma’s personality? How do you think she’ll be as a player? Can she really become the next Maria Sharapova? Emma Raducanu is a 17-year-old tennis player from Romania, who’s already made a name for herself. Last weekend, she became the first teenager since Novak Djokovic to win the US Open junior girls championship. She faced a tough opponent in Misaki Doi, but came out on top, defeating her in the final by the score of 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.
Emma Raducanu is the only player in the Open era to reach the US Open semi-finals after beginning in qualifying.
|Time: 02:00 BST Date: Friday, September 10th New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium is the site of the match.|
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Emma Raducanu’s adventures at the US Open have gone beyond tennis and captured the public’s interest, with the 18-year-old trending on Twitter and being praised by a rock musician for reaching the semi-finals on her first trip to New York.
Raducanu became the first player in the Open era to reach the last four of the American Grand Slam after starting her campaign in qualifying.
Raducanu, a Toronto native who relocated to the UK when she was two, has cruised to the semi-finals without losing a set, her merciless groundstrokes matched with a beaming smile and the feeling that Raducanu is eager to savor every minute of her incredible run.
Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win a Grand Slam singles championship at Wimbledon in 1977, believes Raducanu’s game ticks all the boxes, while Martina Navratilova, a Czech-American 18-time Grand Slam winner, says Raducanu has a “very good tennis IQ and mental IQ.”
Raducanu showed this in her stunning win against Bencic, with her outstanding shot selection, calmness, and ability to react and adapt to fight her opponent’s skills.
Despite knocking out local favorite Shelby Rogers in the last 16, the youngster has endeared herself to the New York audience, with cheers ringing throughout Arthur Ashe Stadium after every point she won against the Olympic winner on Wednesday.
But it is nothing compared to the love Raducanu is receiving from British tennis fans, who are still looking for someone to take Andy Murray’s Grand Slam-winning baton.
‘In those few who will be dominating tennis,’ Raducanu says – Wade
“Yes Emma” and “Go Emma” were trending in the United Kingdom, while supporters on social media suggested renaming the SW19 hill known as Henman Hill: Rise of Raducanu, anyone?
Only the most devoted tennis fans knew the name of a youngster rated outside the world’s top 300 only ten weeks ago, before her run to the Wimbledon final 16.
The coronavirus epidemic had wiped out the development circuits underneath the main WTA Tour, so she hadn’t played in 15 months.
Raducanu was collecting her A-level results last month – an A* in math and an A in economics – and on Monday, she will officially displace Johanna Konta as Great Britain’s best-ranked female player when she rises to the top 50.
According to the eloquent and thoughtful post-match interviews the 18-year-old has given throughout the major, it’s a responsibility she’ll gladly accept.
Despite playing top sport and experiencing numerous lockdowns during her last years as a student, Alan Blount, the teenager’s former headmaster at Newstead Wood School – also sprinter Dina Asher-previous Smith’s school – claimed she maintained her schoolwork up to a good level.
“We’ve seen her rise through the ranks, and she’s always competed overseas before returning to school,” he told Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete, but she’s also a phenomenal scholar, and I believe that’s part of the mentality we’re seeing.” She is deliberating; she is outwitting her adversaries.
“What you see is the Emma that we are familiar with. It’s contagious to see the pleasure on her face. She comes off as honest and a very lovely lady in her interviews.”
She will also have significantly increased her bank account, having earned $675,000 (£490,000) for reaching the last four here and £181,000 in Wimbledon prize money.
It’s been a meteoric rise that Raducanu says she wasn’t expecting – in fact, her trip home was scheduled for after the qualifying rounds, though she concedes that having to reschedule is a “wonderful issue to have.”
Meanwhile, when her instructors expressed concern about missing practice due to Hurricane Ida-related traffic, Raducanu was totally unconcerned, arching her eyebrows and assuring them, “It’s OK if we miss it.”
“I don’t get worked up over a lot of stuff,” she added. “I trust myself, and at the end of the day, it’s all mental.”
While Raducanu is ruthless on the court, she admits that having a “poor attitude” with her parents was “an absolute no-go” when she was a child.
“I believe my upbringing is responsible for my serenity and mental strength,” she added. “I believe both of my parents instilled in me from an early age the importance of having a good attitude on the court.”
“I was thinking about myself today on the court, ‘This might be the last time you play on Ashe, so might as well go for it and enjoy everything.’”
The youngster, who will very certainly be wearing her favorite red dress again since she is “not going to alter absolutely anything” at this point, will return to the famous New York arena on Thursday to face Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari (02:00 BST – Friday, 10 September – live radio commentary on Radio 5 Live).
Despite her status as an underdog, Raducanu will not be written off this time, and she will not put any more pressure on herself.
“It’s definitely the thief of pleasure to compare yourself and your achievements to anybody,” she added.
“I mean, I didn’t compete for 18 months, yet here I am, and it just goes to show that everything is possible if you believe in yourself.”