Emma Raducanu ‘back on the map again’ if she beats Coco Gauff at Australian Open, claims John McEnroe

Emma Raducanu ‘back on the map again’ if she beats Coco Gauff at Australian Open, claims John McEnroe

John McEnroe believes Emma Raducanu could relish the underdog tag as she prepares to face Coco Gauff in the second round of the Australian Open.

The British number one got her Melbourne campaign off to a winning start on Monday, easing past Tamara Korpatsch to pick up just her fourth Grand Slam win since her stunning triumph at the US Open in 2021.

Raducanu now faces an incredibly tough test against Gauff, who despite being two years younger is now established in the top-10 and looks primed for a deep run having got her season up and running with a title in Auckland.

It will be the first time the two have faced each other at any level, despite Raducanu revealing they first met when she was ten and had a practice session together in Florida as juniors.

Seventh seed Gauff is the strong favourite to come out on top, but McEnroe has suggested the situation could work in Raducanu’s favour.

“It will probably be the first time in a couple of years where Emma Raducanu won’t be feeling the type of pressure she’s been feeling since she won the US Open,” he told Eurosport.

“So that’s probably a good thing, to allow her to be more free and do her thing, because to me she’s the type of player, the type of person and the type of talent that we could use in the top 10.

“I think Coco is in the better position right now to make a deep run and I think it’s going to be soon that she’s going to win a major event, in the next year or two at the most. To me she goes in as a heavy favourite.

“She seems to be playing better and better and serving more consistently than she has done. I would say that it’s a match she should win, but a match that could put Raducanu back on the map again, which would be good for her.”

Australian Open 2023 - In pictures

Andy Murray (AP)
Andy Murray (AP)
Emma Raducanu (AFP via Getty Images)
Emma Raducanu (AFP via Getty Images)
Cameron Norrie (REUTERS)
Cameron Norrie (REUTERS)
Iga Swiatek (AP)
Iga Swiatek (AP)
Rafael Nadal with Jack Draper (AFP via Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal with Jack Draper (AFP via Getty Images)
Sunset of the Rod Laver Arena (AFP via Getty Images)
Sunset of the Rod Laver Arena (AFP via Getty Images)
Fans cheer during the match between John Millman of Australia and Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland (Getty Images)
Fans cheer during the match between John Millman of Australia and Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland (Getty Images)
A ball boy attempts to catch moths during the first round match between Marcos Giron of the U.S. and Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australi (AP)
A ball boy attempts to catch moths during the first round match between Marcos Giron of the U.S. and Daniil Medvedev of Russia on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australi (AP)
Spectators cool off outside Kia Arena during day two of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2023 in Melbourne (Getty Images)
Spectators cool off outside Kia Arena during day two of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2023 in Melbourne (Getty Images)
Maria Sakkari (AP)
Maria Sakkari (AP)
Daniel Evans (Getty Images)
Daniel Evans (Getty Images)

Gauff has won all 12 of the sets she has played in 2023 and dropped just five games in her first-round win over Katerina Siniakova, form that suggests she could be ready to go one better than she did at last year’s French Open when losing to Iga Swiatek in her first Grand Slam final.

A major title has seemed almost inevitable for Gauff since she shone at Wimbledon in 2019, reaching the fourth round as a 15-year-old. Raducanu’s rise to fame was similarly sudden, even if it was on a far greater scale.

“Obviously, she’s gone through a lot of pressure, bursting onto the scene,” Gauff said of her second-round opponent.

“I feel like it’s probably more than I have experienced. Being the first British [woman to win a Grand Slam] in a long time probably is a lot more pressure than what I’m used to being an American.

”I definitely can relate to bursting onto the scene and dealing with some pressure, but I don’t think to that level.”