Raducanu 'will dominate next decade' says former champ
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Emma Raducanu – someone completely unknown to most of the British public just three months ago – has just blown apart the history books in winning her first Grand Slam at the age of just 18. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Raducanu’s achievement.
Rewind back to June 30th when Raducanu, ranked No 336 at the time, was competing in the first round of Wimbledon after being handed a wildcard and there would have been just a handful of people watching on as she defeated Vitalia Diatchenko in straight sets.
A remarkable run at SW19 immediately saw her become a household name, reaching the second week of her first Grand Slam event.
Her exit proved heartbreaking as breathing problems forced her to retire from the fourth-round match.
But the nation had already taken Raducanu to their hearts with anticipation building on what was to come.
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Still, there was also some trepidation from many on expecting too much too fast.
In years gone by there have been several tennis stars such as Eugenie Bouchard and Laura Robson to promise so much at such a young age, only to struggle to live up to expectations.
But as the US Open neared, Raducanu’s new fanbase couldn’t help but hide their excitement at seeing her back in action at a Grand Slam event.
Her ranking meant that she had to navigate through the qualifiers, but she dropped just 16 games in three qualifiers to progress to the main draw.
Tougher tests were set to follow, but Raducanu rose to the occasion on every time and, as a result, so did the spotlight on the young Canadian-born sensation.
Dropping just one single game against Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round soon made everyone stand up and take notice of this WTA newcomer.
Olympic champion Belinda Bencic was expected to stop Raducanu’s run, but the British teenager showed no signs of nerves and incredibly dominated the entire match to progress to the final four.
An even more resounding win followed against Maria Sakkari with many in disbelief at what Raducanu was achieving as she become the first ever qualifier – male or female – to reach the final of a Grand Slam.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among the dozens of famous faces who posted their support for Raducanu heading into Saturday’s final against 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez.
And such was the desperation for millions in the UK to witness Raducanu’s bid to become Great Britain’s first female Grand Slam champion since 1977 that Channel 4 moved to get the rights to show the match on terrestrial television.
There was still a final to be played against Fernandez, who had defeated Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka on her way to facing Raducanu.
And what a match it proved to be as the pair of them went for broke in the opening set, sharing some extraodinary exchanges early on.
Raducanu soon got the better of her opponent though to continue her remarkable record of not dropping a set.
No signs of any nerves at 18 years of age though as Raducanu maintained her poise and focus despite the best efforts of Fernandez to force a decider.
The decisive break soon came in the second set though with Raducanu letting out a smile as she soon realised history was in her own hands.
Martina Navratilova described Raducanu before the match as “nuclear” for what she has achieved in such a short space of time.
This just doesn’t happen in any sport in just three months. Going from being outside the top 300 in the world to winning a Grand Slam title is unprecedented.
It was never going to be straightforward as Raducanu served for the match and bizarre scenes followed as she needed to undertake a medical timeout after suffering a nasty cut to her knee with Fernandez clearly angry at the stoppage in play.
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