A strong month’s work from Emma Raducanu, Britain’s exciting 18-year-old prospect, was rewarded when she snuck into the seeded players for the US Open qualifying draw and thus received a favourable first-round match against world No283 Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands.
Raducanu has won eight matches over her last two Challenger-level tournaments in the USA, finishing as runner-up in the $125,000 event in Chicago on Sunday night. As a result, she has climbed 24 places in the new set of rankings, landing at No150 in the world, and thus becoming the 31st seed for this 128-player mini-event.
Each player needs to win three matches to graduate to the US Open proper next week. And for Raducanu, the opposition is only likely to grow tougher if she overcomes Schoofs. One potential foe in the third and final round of qualifying would be Mayar Sherif, the dangerous Egyptian 25-year-old who reached the final of a WTA event in Romania earlier this month.
There will be plenty of British interest in this qualifying event, which includes six of our female players as well as one man in Liam Broady. Harriet Dart is seeded No32, one place behind Raducanu, while Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Samantha Murray-Sharan and Fran Jones are also involved.
Jones – who was born without three toes and two fingers as a result of a rare genetic condition – created one of the stories of the season when she qualified for the Australian Open in January. Now ranked No170, she will face American wild card Elizabeth Mandlik in a winnable match.
Raducanu will draw the most attention, however, as she bids to build on her extraordinary run to the fourth round of Wimbledon last month. Her burgeoning profile was also reflected in a call-up to the Champions Tennis event at London’s Royal Albert Hall in November.
Her arrival was delayed by Hurricane Henri, which has disrupted flights into New York, but Raducanu should at least have a chance to practice in Flushing Meadows’ notorious heat and humidity. Her match against Schoofs will represent her first in an overseas major.
Meanwhile Andy Murray will play Frances Tiafoe – whom he beat in Cincinnati a year ago – in Winston-Salem on Tuesday.