Britain’s emerging prospect Emma Raducanu battled 35-degree temperatures in New York as she moved into the third and final round of the US Open’s qualifying event.
Raducanu’s 6-3, 7-5 win over Georgia’s Mariam Bolkvadze might look unexceptional on paper, but this was a brutal encounter in roasting conditions. Both players looked winded towards the end of their 97-minute contest. But it was Raducanu who showed more determination and desire, escaping from a difficult situation at 0-30 in her penultimate service game to eventually overcome her more experienced opponent.
By persevering, Raducanu demonstrated that she can deal with adverse circumstances. She also went a long way towards laying the ghost of her unfortunate retirement at Wimbledon, where the relentless baseline play of her opponent Alja Tomljanovic left her physically exhausted and eventually forced her to retire with breathing difficulties.
Raducanu’s win over Bolkvadze showed the benefits of the five weeks she has already spent in the USA. She had played three tournaments before this one, and was unable to finish her quarter-final at the middle one – in Landisville, Pennsylvania – because of heat exhaustion.
Seeing news of Raducanu’s latest retirement come up a fortnight ago, some might have questioned her resilience. In fact, she was one of several players who suffered a similar fate in Landisville. And in the long run, the experience was surely a positive.
“It was extremely humid,” Raducanu explained, when asked about Landisville during a Zoom media conference on Tuesday. “The heat rule was in play most of the days. After playing there for ten days I’ve acclimatised pretty well, and now I’m actually feeling in pretty good shape physically.”
Meanwhile, Andy Murray has received a brutal draw at the US Open against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the third seed, who is seen as one of the main rivals to Novak Djokovic over the next fortnight.
Murray has never played against Tsitsipas before. But on ranking alone, this is the toughest opponent that he has faced since before his hip blew up in 2017.
In fact, the last time he met a player of similar eminence it was another world No3 – Stan Wawrinka – in the infamous French Open semi-final of 2017. Since that match, neither Murray nor Wawrinka has been quite the same again.
Both men have undergone multiple operations over the last couple of years, and while Murray continues to battle on in defiance of his metal hip, Wawrinka has been unable to compete since March because of a recurrence of his knee trouble.