Emma Raducanu’s victory over Sloane Stephens in the opening round of the 2022 Australian Open reminded us all what a fabulous talent the young Brit is. Going into the match she was actually ranked as the outsider by the bookmakers. This despite her last Grand Slam match being the title clincher in Flushing Meadows.
Stephens was playing her first match of the year following getting married in the off-season. The American was off the pace at first, which allowed Raducanu to ease into the match. Both players started playing well in the second and produced some fierce rallies full of variety. Eventually though Raducanu began to produce the groundstrokes and touch that we all remembered from her US Open title win.
The pattern of Emma Raducanu’s Career
The youngster has only ever won two WTA Tour matches, both in Romania at the Cluj-Napoca WTA250 event. By contrast her win against Stephens was her fourteenth Grand Slam victory. This includes the qualifiers at the US Open. Nine sets in this run were won 6-0 or 6-1, and only two sets have been lost in the fifteen matches she has played.
Indeed, it was only last week that Raducanu lost 6-0 6-1 to Elena Rybakina. This performance meant that media outlets everywhere felt the need to remind everyone to be patient with the youngster. It is perhaps also apt to remind everyone that her last match before her US Open triumph was a defeat to Clara Tauson in a WTA Challenger event.
Comparisons to Koepka
It appears as though the British teenager feels at home on the big stage. Her record in regular events against the Major tournaments brings to mind a player in a different sport. Brooks Koepka has developed a reputation in golf of only performing his best in the Majors. When Koepka won his fourth Major in 2019 he had only won two PGA tour events. Certainly many tennis players, and golf pros, would love to have that kind of record in their careers.
Raducanu now moves forward to face Montengrin player Danka Kovinic in the next round. If she is victorious there then it could set up a tasty looking clash with Simona Halep–a match that surely both British and Romanian tennis fans will be glued to their television sets for.
Main Photo from Getty.