“Something” turned into a big deal for the young tennis star, Emma Raducanu who recently won on one of the biggest states in the tennis world.
Raducanu, who is only 18-years-old, recently competed at the U. S. Open Championship where she won the tournament and the trophy that goes along with it. Before she can open a bottle of champagne in the United States to celebrate, she has found her way to this prestigious level of play and finished with her first Grand Slam win at an extremely young age.
The Thought of Something Wasn’t so Long Ago
Raducanu has not been a household name in the tennis world until recently. She wasn’t a child prodigy of the sport like the Williams sisters, and she didn’t grow up with parents where were tennis starts. Even so, at age 11, she thought she might be able to accomplish “something” in this sport. This thought came to her when she won her first junior tournament outside of Great Britain only seven years ago. That thought has turned her into a champion on the court and allowed her to live out her dream more quickly than most people ever do.
From the Darkness to the Light
Prior to Wimbledon, which is held in her home country of Great Britain, Emma Raducanu had only competed in five WTA tour-level tournaments. When the main tournament in England was held, she was ranked number 338 in the world and was happy just to be given a main-draw wild card for the tournament in her home country. The qualifying wild card was upgraded after she reached the quarterfinals of the ITF World Tour event in Nottingham, giving her a generous prize and a much-needed boost in the rankings.
That stunning run at Wimbledon showed Emma to be the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round of this tournament in the Open era, but that would not have been enough to tell the world what she would do next when she headed to New York City.
A Run in New York Unlike Any Other
Entering the U. S. Open in New York, Emma Raducanu was ranked 150 in the world. A ranking that was certainly improved by her strong tournament showing at Wimbledon. The stage was set for Emma to play in New York, but knowing she was coming from such a low ranking, she had plane tickets booked after the preliminary matches in case she didn’t continue to progress during the tournament.
Neither player in the finals of the U.S. Open was American, but that’s not what was most interesting about the matchup or the run to this final set. Raducanu did not lose a single set in nine matches on her way to the finals. She was completely dominant over the first 12 days of the tournament and it was down to the final match with Emma facing off against 19-year-old Canadian Layla Fernandez to see who would raise the trophy.
From Qualifying to Championship
Raducanu had a veritable gauntlet of games to make it to the finals of the U. S. Open. This pathway would have caused many a player to stumble, but along the way, Emma was dominant in her efforts and nearly flawless in her approach. Here’s the path she had to take.
Qualifying Round One
Raducanu beat Bibiane Schoofs 6-1, 6-2. This was a relatively easy match for Emma, coming off the run at Wimbledon that certainly boosted her confidence.
Qualifying Round Two
Emma Raducanu beat Miriam Bokvadze 6-3, 7-5. This was one of the hardest matches for her as she faced an opponent that pushed her to break point many times during the match.
Qualifying Round Three
Emma beat Myar Sherif 6-1, 6-4. Sherif came in the fourth seed in qualifying and Emma dominated the match from start to finish.
Raducanu beat Stefanie Voegele 6-2, 6-3. With Jennifer Brady suffering an injury, Emma made short work of Voegele in this match.
Emma Raducanu beat Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-4. This was a bit of a rematch from several weeks in the past where Zhang was the victor, but this time it was Raducanu winning the match.
Emma beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0,6-1. Sorribes Tormo came into this match ranked 41 in the world and wasn’t a challenge for Raducanu at all.
Raducanu beat Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1. Rogers had recently beaten the top seed in the tournament, Ashleigh Barty, but made too many errors against Emma.
Emma Raducanu beat Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4. To this point, the toughest match that Emma had, but still, Raducanu could not be beaten to this point in the tournament.
Emma beat Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4. Ranked 17 in the world, Sakkari was fierce and brought a ton of experience to the court. Even so, Raducanu came away victorious enroute to the Finals.
Would There Be a Different Story in the Finals?
Facing a challenger that had a similar path to this point, would Emma have the toughest match of her tournament? Would she lose a set? Would these two women fight for several sets before one would have the upper hand?
The answers came fast, they came quickly, and the story of the U. S. Open finals in Arthur Ashe Stadium was much the same for Emma Raducanu as the rest of the tournament.
Raducanu dominated the match and beat Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the final to win her first Grand Slam title.
An Unlikely Story that Continues to Get Better
Three months before the U. S. Open, Emma Raducanu had never played in a professional tour-level event. Now, she has won one of the most coveted awards on one of the biggest stages in the sport. She took 18 months off for the pandemic and to finish high school and was able to pick up and find her way from a ranking that would never get noticed to be a Grand Slam champion.
What a story! What a ride!