Can Raducanu keep fine run going?
And so it is left to 18-year-old Emma Raducanu to fly the flag for British women’s players at this year’s final grand slam.
Quite remarkable given little was known of the teenager outside tennis circles some 10 weeks ago. Her stunning run to the fourth round on her senior major debut at Wimbledon this summer has been backed up by a confident display in qualifying and the opening round of Flushing Meadows. Her rapid rise is not only making back-page news in the UK, but drawing a growing audience in the States.
Raducanu’s refreshing approach has enthralled the crowd at the US Open, and now the Briton hopes to continue what has already been a stunning run in New York by reaching the third round.
After coming through her first-round with a straight-sets win over Stefanie Vogele, today she faces China’s Zhang Shuai, a player she came up against at the start of her hard court season at the Silicon Valley Classic in early August, and lost 6-3, 6-2.
Raducanu feels she has come a long way in a short space of time since that defeat in brutal hot conditions.
“I have played four matches at the US Open and I’m feeling very comfortable here in the conditions, I feel I have acclimatised well due to the few weeks I have had in the States,” the Londoner said.
“I don’t think you can compare any two tournaments because there are so many different variables but I’m enjoying my time here.”
Raducanu, who revealed she speaks Mandarin with her Chinese mother, said: “I know Zhang, we speak quite a lot in Mandarin whenever we see each other.
“We got on well and she is a great player. I played her in San Jose, it was my first game on the hard courts.
“I am going into it this time with the learning from our first one. Hopefully it can be a good rematch and I feel I have come quite far with my game since.”
Despite her swift rise to prominence, Raducanu doesn’t feel under pressure to meet the growing expectations.
“I feel like I am learning so much, being around these players and hitting with them, I feel like I am absorbing it all, so I don’t feel any pressure. It is all a free swing and bonus for me because I don’t have anything to lose.
“Still everything is so new to me and I just love New York, the buzz and everything. Walking around the city, it is such an amazing experience. I am just enjoying it and I want to stay here as long as possible so I will keep fighting.”