Emma Raducanu’s US Open defense should be approached with perspective

Even now, 12 months later, the improbability and sheer audacity of it all still amazes. An 18-year-old from Bromley named Emma Raducanu, ranked at No. 150 in the world and starting her second Grand Slam tournament in the first qualifying round, came to the US Open and won the whole thing. It was done with aplomb and style, without dropping a sentence and ending a 44-year wait for a British women’s singles champion at a Grand Slam, but above all was the sense of joy that surrounded the collective marvel at the achievement . It was a sporting fairy tale written in New York.

Back then, the energy Raducanu radiated for those two weeks last September felt contagious. Here was a player who stepped onto the world’s greatest tennis stadium, faced the toughest tests of her career, and attacked her opponents with freedom and conviction – almost despite the mounting pressure and expectation that grew with her breathtaking run. Meanwhile, Raducanu approached the games feeling like she couldn’t lose. The free swing became the home run. It was the most brilliant and unexpected of all stories.

It was perhaps naïve to think it would last. Raducanu is now returning to the US Open but has admitted quite clearly that she would like her year as the defending champion to be over. Between the lines is the longing to rewind and the desire to arrive back in New York as the teenager who didn’t book her hotel room after qualifying, who felt no fear that her trip would end sooner than expected. Now the expectation and definition of what would be considered a successful or rather unsuccessful tournament has shifted across the scale.

Raducanu defeated Leylah Fernandez in last season’s finals

(Getty Images)

Of course, it’s a good time to reflect on Raducanu’s first season on tour, which brought many tough moments and difficult lessons. Defending her US Open title will be the last challenge of the past 12 months, but speaking about it, Raducanu has hinted that she’s looking forward to a fresh start, a clean slate where the weight, the reigning US Open champion to be, not be will depend quite as much.

Simply put, the defending Grand Slam champions don’t lose their opening match of the tournament. Raducanu is not a defending champion, but here she was handed an awkward and difficult draw against the experienced Alize Cornet, who ended Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon in July. It’s as difficult a start as she could realistically have been given. For critics and critics, the contrast of an early departure couldn’t more clearly illustrate her final 12 months, the fitness concerns, the uncertainty about her training lineup and the questions surrounding her sponsorship deals. Now Raducanu knows how quickly all that noise can reappear.

When Raducanu spoke of wanting to “start fresh” after the US Open, he might have had a situation like this in mind. While her season hasn’t gone as expected, she knows each of her lows has been met with comment and judgment and little regard for her relative inexperience on the WTA Tour, perspective of which has been lost behind the magnitude of her win at the US Open. Her debut year was marked by injuries that ended any hope of momentum before any of the previous Grand Slams. In 18 tournaments since the US Open, her semi-final win over Maria Sakkari at Flushing Meadows remains the only semi-final appearance of her pro career.

Raducanu was unfit when she was eliminated from Wimbledon in the second round

(Getty Images)

It’s not the form of a player starting the US Open as the tournament’s 11th seed, but a clearer picture may soon emerge. If Raducanu is indeed looking forward to a clean slate after the US Open, depending on her progress this week, losing the 2,000 ranking points she gained by beating Leylah Fernandez in the final last September will mean her position crashing in top 100 in the world No one can take away from her what Raducanu accomplished in New York, but that reality would rather reflect where she is at this stage in her development.

That’s not to say that something special can’t happen again. It would be a surprise to see Raducanu go far at the US Open, just as it would be if every player who hasn’t won more than three games in a row all season can summon that consistency and form at a Grand Slam would, but there have been flashes of form over the past few weeks since returning to hardcourts.

Raducanu’s stunning victories over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka this month in Cincinnati were reminiscent of her fearless approach in her last appearance at Flushing Meadows. Martina Navratilova said it was the best Raducanu has played since. Even after the defeat in the quarterfinals against top American Jessica Pegula, Raducanu praised the tournament as a whole as a “big step”.

Raducanu has been reflecting on her first season on the WTA Tour since winning the US Open

(Getty Images)

For some who still have images of Raducanu staring at Arthur Ashe and hitting clean winners, breaking through the tournament while tearing up history, the idea of ​​the British No1 defending her sensational title while admitting that she Doing it would prefer that it’s already over, can seem a little daunting. But it may also be just what she needs.

Raducanu may have looked back with envy at how she was able to approach the US Open so freely without all the surrounding noise last year, but she was mainly looking ahead in hopes of conquering it again. After shooting to the top 12 months ago, the focus is now on incremental progress, but perhaps what Raducanu needs most is an environment where losing comes with no doubts and fear of consequences. Perhaps, as Raducanu has suggested, a fresh start and a step back is required to take another step forward. This US Open could come and go before there’s a chance to see it again, but the reality is there’s a lot more to come.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/emma-raducanu-us-open-draw-final-b2153068.html Emma Raducanu’s US Open defense should be approached with perspective

Fry Electronics Team

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