US Open 2021: Emma Raducanu wins on New York main-draw debut

3 months ago 10
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Emma RaducanuRaducanu reached the Wimbledon last 16 on her Grand Slam debut in July
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

British teenager Emma Raducanu showed her talent and maturity again on the Grand Slam stage as she eased to victory on her US Open main-draw debut.

Raducanu, 18, was a break down in each set but won 6-2 6-3 against experienced Swiss opponent Stefanie Vogele.

After her stunning run as a wildcard at Wimbledon in July, Raducanu qualified for her first major in New York.

A composed display ended with a slight wobble as she needed a seventh match point to secure her spot in round two.

There she will face China's Zhang Shuai, who beat Raducanu in San Jose in early August.

"It is absolutely amazing," Raducanu told Amazon Prime. "Everyone could tell I was getting shaky at the end, I was so relieved at the end of it.

"I feel really good physically and confident in my game. I'm excited to see how far I can go."

The buzz around Raducanu was illustrated by the joyous reaction which greeted her victory from the New York crowd, which included a young girl holding a sign which said 'Emma, I Love You' and a line of selfie-hunters patiently waiting as she came off court.

Raducanu is the first British player to win a match in the women's singles at Flushing Meadows this year, although Katie Boulter has the chance to join her in the next stage later on Tuesday.

Also making her US Open debut, 25-year-old Boulter faces Russia's Ludmilla Samsonova at around 23:00 BST.

Fellow Britons Heather Watson and Harriet Dart lost their opening matches when the final Grand Slam of the 2021 season started on Monday, while Johanna Konta pulled out of the tournament with a thigh injury.

Buzz continuing to grow around Raducanu - and she shows why

Raducanu was supposed to face American 13th seed Jennifer Brady on Arthur Ashe Stadium - the world's biggest court - in her opening match, but there was a late change of plan for the Briton when the Australian Open finalist withdrew because of a knee injury.

Instead she faced Vogele on court 17 and, while facing an opponent with less pedigree was perhaps a piece of good fortune, she showed her ability to easily adapt to the situation.

"I was very up for my match against Brady, I was looking forward to playing on such a big stage. I had to prep last minute but I had to focus on my game and what I could control," she said.

Backed by a vocal crowd interested in seeing first hand why she has emerged as Britain's best young talent, Raducanu delivered with another superb performance.

She showcased her heavy weight of shot, range of skills and improved athleticism since pulling out of her fourth-round match at Wimbledon with breathing difficulties and dizziness.

"As long as she keeps her right head, the right people around her, the discipline, the work ethic, she will be in the top 10 in no time," Daniela Hantuchova, the former world number five and now an analyst, said on Amazon Prime.

Raducanu did have a few problems sealing victory, though. After being unable to convert five match points as Vogele rallied, she showed more nerves with a double fault on her sixth match point.

A brilliant reverse overhead volley set up a seventh opportunity, the execution of such a tough shot at a tense stage even drawing laughter from the Briton, who clinched victory when Vogele went long.

Having not dropped a set at Flushing Meadows this week, and looking physically stronger, she now has the chance to avenge her recent defeat by Zhang.

"I think I have improved in the last few weeks," Raducanu said. "Playing at this level week in week out you adapt and if you don't you're going to lose.

"I've come quite far in maintaining the consistency of the high level and the longer points. As the weeks have gone on and I've played more matches I feel very confident in my game and taking the game to the opponent."

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