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US Open 2021 – With Emma Raducanu’s victory, cautious optimism for her future

NEW YORK — Emma Raducanu arrived in New York three weeks in the past for the US Open qualifying event ranked No. 150 on the planet and having simply performed within the greatest last of her profession — a Challenger occasion in Chicago.

She leaves town as the most improbable Grand Slam champion and a worldwide phenomenon.

It has been a fairytale summer time for the 18-year-old, who was equally targeted on her A-level exams within the spring as she was on her tennis profession. She made her WTA essential draw debut at Nottingham in June — as she was ready for her college take a look at outcomes — after which obtained a wild card for Wimbledon. Raducanu then surprised the tennis world together with her run to the fourth spherical on the All England Membership earlier than retiring mid-match resulting from dizziness and issue respiration.

But it surely turned out that that was only the start.

She rolled via the US Open qualifying subject, after which the primary draw. Throughout her 10 matches, together with Saturday’s last towards giant-slayer Leylah Fernandez, she by no means dropped a set. Raducanu dominated all of her opponents together with her fearless recreation model and unbreakable resolve and have become the one qualifier to win a significant title in Open Period historical past in addition to the primary British girl to take action since 1977.

In a span of lower than three months, she’s climbed from 338 within the rankings to 23 and her $2.5 million payday was greater than eight instances her complete profession earnings. Queen Elizabeth II was amongst these to publicly congratulate her. Having develop into identified for her laidback perspective off the courtroom, Raducanu lastly appeared to soak up the complete weight of what she achieved as she lay on the bottom staring on the sky after having gained the ultimate level because the raucous crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium showered her with an ovation.

“I’ve at all times dreamed of successful a Grand Slam,” Raducanu mentioned a number of hours after her victory. “You simply say these items. You say, ‘I wish to win a Grand Slam.’ However to have the assumption I did, and truly executing, successful a Grand Slam, I am unable to consider it.”

Raducanu is immediately the game’s newest Subsequent Huge Factor and additional proof of tennis’ vibrant future, however within the continuously altering world of girls’s tennis, what occurs subsequent for her — and Fernandez, a rising star in her personal proper — is anyone’s guess.

“The sky is the restrict for Emma, and for Leylah, however I do not wish to put any further strain on them,” mentioned Chrissie Evert, the 18-time main champion and ESPN analyst. “We have seen different careers which have regarded unstoppable however have not lasted very lengthy … Who is aware of what is going on to occur when the goal’s on their backs or with this degree of consideration?”

The emergence of Raducanu and Fernandez, 19, has been one of many predominant storylines of the event, even at instances outshining Novak Djokovic’s try to affix tennis immortality by reaching the Calendar Slam and his record-setting twenty first title.

Followers on the occasion and around the globe have been astounded by the poise and unwavering self-belief of each youngsters. With multicultural backgrounds and several other international locations every claiming some stake in each, Raducanu and Fernandez have gone from digital unknowns to in a single day sensations in lower than two weeks. It has been a meteoric rise for each, however particularly Raducanu, who has but to even report a win in a WTA event.

Their assembly within the last was the primary all-teenage title conflict on the US Open since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis in 1999. The joy of the gang was palpable, because the chair umpire often needed to ask these within the stands to be quiet or sit down.

However whereas they had been the primary teenagers to sq. off with such excessive stakes in New York in over 20 years, there have been different kids to hoist trophies at majors in recent times. Bianca Andreescu and Iga Swiatek had been each 19 after they gained their titles on the 2019 US Open and 2020 French Open, respectively, and Naomi Osaka and Jelena Ostapenko had been 20 for his or her first Grand Slam victories.

All 4, in addition to then-21-year-old Sofia Kenin on the 2020 Australian Open, regarded poised for superstardom and fast tour-level dominance. But Osaka stays the one one to have gained one other main title.

“You simply do not know concerning the future,” mentioned Rennae Stubbs, the four-time main doubles champion and ESPN analyst. “I imply, have a look at the variety of gamers we have seen — Bianca, Kenin, Ostapenko. I imply, these had been all teenagers or of their early 20s that gained a Grand Slam just lately. They usually did not simply win however they did it in a manner that we thought possibly they had been the subsequent one. So all of us maintain our breath now.”

The parity and depth within the ladies’s recreation has by no means been deeper, and anybody ranked within the high 100, or past, is able to beating anybody else on any given day. Raducanu and Fernandez’s performances over the fortnight greater than exemplified that, even when it is actually nothing new.

There have been 14 completely different main champions in ladies’s tennis because the begin of the 2016 season. In contrast, there have been six males to take action in that point span, and simply 4 because the starting of 2017. There have been 4 first-time ladies’s semifinalists on the French Open in June, and eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova had been unseeded and enjoying in simply her fifth essential draw at a Grand Slam.

Osaka has been more and more vocal concerning the toll of fame and the struggles she’s had since successful her first main on the 2018 US Open. After withdrawing from the French Open earlier this summer time, she revealed she had “lengthy bouts of melancholy” because the breakthrough victory. She’s since gained three different Grand Slam titles and become the highest-paid female athlete in the world due to a staggering business portfolio and overwhelming international reputation, however her story is maybe in some ways a cautionary story.

“I hope they take every little thing sluggish,” Evert mentioned of Raducanu and Fernandez. “I hope they’ve good folks and a very good crew round them. I hope they proceed to work on their recreation and have regular lives and are capable of nonetheless be a youngster and never get slowed down with endorsements and tournaments and appearances and stuff like that.

“We have seen too many dangerous situations. It should be all concerning the folks they encompass themselves with. Fame comes at you quick, and it is all new and thrilling, and we do not know what is going on to occur after they really feel extra strain or after they lose a number of matches. We simply do not understand how they will react to every little thing. Success might be deceiving and I hope they’re ready.”

Fernandez, who beat Osaka in addition to former US Open champion Angelique Kerber and top-five gamers Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka en path to the ultimate, may even attain a brand new career-high rating on Monday as she enters the highest 30. She turned a crowd favourite in New York, and can most actually have a slew of latest alternatives awaiting her.

For each gamers, issues will dramatically change going ahead as they’ll immediately have essential draw entry for any event they want to play and an elevated quantity of consideration. However Fernandez mentioned she did not suppose issues can be a lot completely different going ahead.

“I do not suppose it should change my life that a lot,” Fernandez mentioned after the match. “I am very fortunate to have an incredible assist crew and an incredible household to maintain me grounded. With these wins and this loss right now, it positively stings, however it should simply make me wish to work tougher and stronger, [and] simply come again to each event with the identical starvation that I got here into this event.”

In fact, there is a sizable distinction in standing between Grand Slam finalist and Grand Slam champion, and Raducanu will now have unprecedented calls for for her time and be the topic of the relentless glare of the British press.

The longer term stays unsure — maybe for her greater than any earlier champion — however on Saturday evening anyway, Raducanu wasn’t fazed by the expectations or what lay forward.

“I have not considered any of that, to be sincere,” she mentioned. “After the match, I simply showered, similar routines as at all times. I am not even fascinated with, like, once I’m going residence. I don’t know once I’m going residence. I don’t know what I am doing tomorrow. I am simply actually attempting to embrace the second, actually take all of it in.

“I positively suppose it is the time to only swap off from any future ideas or any plans, any schedule. I’ve received completely no clue. Proper now, no care on the planet, I am simply loving life.”

https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/32189707/us-open-2021-emma-raducanu-victory-cautious-optimism-future | US Open 2021 – With Emma Raducanu’s victory, cautious optimism for her future

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