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

Emma Raducanu takes on 17th seed Maria Sakkari in the semi-finals of the US Open in just her second Grand Slam tournament

Emma Raducanu takes on 17th seed Maria Sakkari in the semi-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 her fairytale of New York end 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 semi-final clash Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari at around 2am UK time on Friday.

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 becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, looms large.

Raducanu, who was ranked outside the top 350 in June, isprojected to rise to at least 51 in the world on Monday, making her the new British No 1

Raducanu, who was ranked outside the top 350 in June, isprojected to rise to at least 51 in the world on Monday, making her the new British No 1

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 make 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 22 games so far, but, as impressive as she has been, she has also been fortunate in the opponents she has faced.

She did not face a top-100 player until her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon, and the highest-ranked opponent she had met prior to the clash with Swiss Belinda Bencic was 41st-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo, who she beat for the loss of one game in the third round.

Raducanu is the first qualifier ever to reach the last four and, having passed her biggest test so far with a comfortable victory in her first career match against the Olympic singles gold medallist in Tokyo and top-20 player, she now has greater ambitions of lifting the trophy and taking home a cheque of $2.5 million.

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.

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 51 in the world on Monday, making her the British No 1 ahead of Johanna Konta and Heather Watson.

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

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