Emma Raducanu: Can She Be Britain’s Best Since Virginia Wade?

Emma Raducanu US Open

It is a fact of history that the last Grand Slam final that featured a British female player was the Wimbledon final of 1977. Back then Virginia Wade lifted the famous Venus Rosewater Dish defeating Betty Stove in the final. Wade was presented with the dish that day by Queen Elizabeth II, it was her Silver Jubilee year. Very few would have thought that we would be approaching the Platinum Jubilee without seeing a female Brit in a Grand Slam final again, let alone a winner.

Five Matches, Five Wins at US Open 2021

But now comes Emma Raducanu. Still only 18 years of age, still ranked outside the top 100. However, the youngster born in Canada, to a Romanian father and Chinese mother, has quickly become a favorite. The British public is interested in her, but so are the American crowds. Fans have flocked to her matches in the opening two rounds and her third-round match against Sara Sorribes Tormo is likely to be no different.

Five matches at Flushing Meadows, five wins for Raducanu. It may be the last time that Emma Raducanu has to qualify for a Grand Slam for a while, but she did so here without dropping a set. That trend has continued into the main draw with straight sets victories over Stefanie Voegele and Zhang Shuai.

The key to her form has been the quality of her serve. Raducanu has only been broken seven times across all five matches and although her serve wouldn’t be described as powerful, it is certainly well directed and with good variety also. The Briton’s groundstrokes have been a standout as well. Most opponents really struggle with the consistent depth and corner finding off both forehand and backhand. The groundstrokes are also quite flat which gives them the illusion of greater pace but they are certainly keeping Raducanu’s opponents off-balance.

Raducanu’s Next Challenge

A victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo in the third round would definitely represent a step up though. The Spaniard is having a career season at the age of 24. Unusually for a Spanish player she is equally adept on a hard court as a clay court, indeed her win percentage on hard in the last twelve months is a ridiculously high 74%. Having dumped out the seeded and talented Karolina Muchova, Sorribes Tormo will have heaps of confidence and is rightly the favorite for this match. However, it is impossible to rule out Raducanu.

The Brit strikes me as a young woman who has inner belief. She certainly has intelligence and she believes this to be a weapon she can bring to the court. There will be plenty of problems to solve against Sorribes Tormo and you can’t rule out the youngster to make that leap. She already showed during her run at Wimbledon that she can beat top 50 players, Marketa Vondrousova and Sorana Cirstea can certainly testify to that.

Britain Awaits The Future

Reaching the fourth round at a second Grand Slam before she even wins a main tour WTA match would be something quite special. Johanna Konta is having a superb career, Heather Watson is a multiple WTA title winner, Laura Robson produced a similar US Open run as a teenager before horrific luck with injuries, but the feeling is that Emma Raducanu has the potential to eclipse all of them.

Can she win a Grand Slam before the Platinum Jubilee? It is highly unlikely of course, but a win against Sorribes Tormo and who knows what might be around the corner for this remarkable talent.

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