What a tournament this US Open is proving to be for teenagers, said Tumaini Carayol in The Guardian. We’ve seen Spain’s 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz reach the men’s singles quarter-finals, and Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez, 19, reach the women’s semi-finals.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect of all has been Emma Raducanu, said Jamie Johnson in The Daily Telegraph. The British teenager’s thrillingly attacking tennis and incessant running has got everyone talking about her. Deservedly so, said Simon Briggs in the same paper. Whatever the outcome of her quarter-final against Belinda Bencic (still to be played when The Week went to press), the 18-year-old has already proved beyond doubt she’s the real deal.
Her rise has been meteoric: just three months ago, she was a “schoolgirl waiting for her A-level results and wondering whether she might be granted a wild card into Wimbledon”. At that point, ranked 338 in the world, she’d only ever played a handful of professional matches. And having got that wild card, she announced herself to the tennis world by making it through to the second week (before retiring from her fourth round against Ajla Tomljanovic with breathing problems).
Impressive as that achievement was, few expected her to repeat – let alone exceed it – at Flushing Meadows. Now, with a chance to claim a spot in the semi-finals, the teenage sensation could be a contender to win the US Open. “What we are witnessing here is truly remarkable,” said Stuart Fraser in The Times.
Including qualifying, Raducanu has now played seven matches without dropping a single set. And despite facing progressively tougher opponents, her victory margins have been getting bigger. In the third round, many expected her to struggle against the in-form Sara Sorribes Tormo – but she obliterated the Spaniard for the loss of just one game.
It was much the same story in Monday’s match against home favourite Shelby Rogers, who’d just claimed the scalp of world No. 1 Ash Barty. Playing on the “main show court” for the first time, Raducanu initially struggled with nerves, and went 2-0 down. “Then followed an astounding turnaround”, as she reeled off 12 of the next 13 games.
She is a “superstar in the making”, declared Martina Navratilova, commentating for Amazon Prime. Yet we should not get carried away, said Jamie Johnson. In her fledgling career, Raducanu has never faced a player ranked inside the top 40 and so remains untested “against the best in the women’s game”. Bencic, the world No. 12 and the recent Olympic gold medallist, will pose a challenge on a different level from anything she’s previously faced.