"We’re watching something pretty special" – inside Emma Raducanu's US Open Journey so far
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Her run has been incredible. You have to go back to the start – she came in from Chicago very late and had reached the final of the WTA 125 event the week before, so she only got in to New York on the Monday before qualifiers started on the Wednesday.
Ahead of Emma Raducanu’s eagerly anticipated US Open quarter-final match with Belinda Bencic, we sat down with our Head of Women’s Tennis, Iain Bates, over in New York to discuss the 18-year-old LTA Pro-Scholarship Programme player's brilliant run so far at Flushing Meadows, how she approaches the game and what she’s like off the court.
Emma has lost the fewest games of any female quarter-finalist in New York since Serena Williams in 2013 – what are your thoughts on her run at the US Open so far?
Her run has been incredible. You have to go back to the start – she came in from Chicago very late and had reached the final of the WTA 125 event the week before, so she only got in to New York on the Monday before qualifiers started on the Wednesday. At that point it was all about recovery and trying to make sure she was well prepared in a new environment here in New York to be ready for qualifiers.
She then had to play three back-to-back days, which was just as impressive as her run in the main draw has been because she was coming off the back of being tired and having to play in her first overseas slam.
What we’ve seen over the last few days is that every time it’s been a new situation – first round, second round, or playing on Arthur Ashe – she’s adapted to the challenge and different game styles. She still puts her game on the court but she can also cope with whatever her opponent can throw at her.
This week has been a number of firsts for Emma – first time on Arthur Ashe, first international Grand Slam, etc – is there’s a particular way she approaches that or does she relish each opportunity?
I don’t think it’s just one particular approach, I think she’s just learning all the time. The beauty of being around Emma is you can see that she wants more information and what she can do better and it’s the same no matter what environment she’s in. She’s just learning all the time and her game is improving with that.
If you look through the trip she’s been on here for example, the first week she was in the States she lost to a girl in a first round but she learnt from that and then beat here in the second round.
Emma has spoken about the benefits she’s seen in her game from doing her A-levels – do you see that thirst for knowledge as a key part of her success moving forward?
I think it’s given her a different skillset and perspective on things – it’s not just been about tennis from a very young age.
I think it has helped her connect with some of the challenges she’s faced – she’s very analytical in the way she goes about things and applies her experiences outside of tennis to the game. It gives a bit of balance and perspective.
It seems like the crowd has really got behind Emma at the US Open – has that felt the same for you in the stadium? How much is she feeding off that?
It was quite interesting in the fourth round, obviously she faced an American and you go in thinking that the crowd was really going to be on Shelby Rogers’ side.
But there was a small pocket of fans down by the side of the court who she latched on to and they latched on to her. It was brilliant to see because when you’re playing in that arena having those pockets of support can be really advantageous.
There’s been a lot of interest in her and she’s been really well supported throughout qualies and into the main draw, so long may that continue.
What’s the atmosphere like inside the team going into the next round?
There’s a level of excitement and positivity for sure because we’re watching something pretty special for a British player of Emma’s age. There’s a sense of awe in what she’s doing on the biggest stage in world tennis and that gives everyone around her a buzz.
It’s at the same time trying to manage that excitement around what she can achieve with what needs to be done in order to prepare her really well for the quarter-final.
How will Emma approach her quarter-final match against Bencic?
Everyone will watch video - our analysis team do a great job in making sure we have plenty of footage of other matches. Generally Andrew (Richardson) and Emma will watch these and come up with their game plans and go from there.
Any player at this stage of an event is ready for whatever is thrown at them and will deal with it the best that they can.
She’s about to play the quarters of a slam against the Olympic gold medallist who has had a brilliant summer of tennis, but she’ll be ready to take on that challenge.
We saw the legendary Virginia Wade supporting in the stands on Monday and Emma has received lots of messages from people outside of sport – how much inspiration does she draw from that?
I think having Virginia on the court was really nice, especially at the end when the on court interviewer gave Emma a chance to acknowledge that she was there watching.
In terms of the outside support, she won’t really know much of that other than the high profile support she received during Wimbledon. I think it’s more taking a step back and looking at how good that is for British and women’s tennis that you’ve got someone who is transcending the tennis community.
LTA Pro Scholarship Programme
Emma Raducanu is supported by the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, which provides world-class coaching, medical and financial support to Britain’s elite young players with the potential to reach the top 100 within five years.
Find out more here.