Emma Raducanu ‘loving life’ after completing her New York fairytale with US Open title

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A delighted Emma Raducanu holds up the US Open trophy (Seth Wenig/AP) (AP)
A delighted Emma Raducanu holds up the US Open trophy (Seth Wenig/AP) (AP)

Emma Raducanu has insisted she will maintain her relaxed approach to tennis following her stunning US Open triumph on Saturday.

The 18-year-old became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam and the first British woman to win a major singles title since 1977, defeating Leylah Fernandez in New York to lift the trophy on her first appearance at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu played 10 matches at the hard-court Slam, including her qualifying ties, and won all of them without dropping a set.

She finished her match against 19-year-old Canadian Fernandez with an ace, having been forced into a medical timeout just minutes prior after bloodying her knee on court.

The 6-4 6-3 win was watched from the stands by Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title – 44 years ago.

Raducanu is yet to win a match on the WTA Tour and little over three months ago she was a full-time schoolgirl completing her A-levels, with competitive tennis having taken a back seat for more than a year. But the teenager’s extraordinary talent was evident from an early age and she showed in her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon this summer that a big future lay ahead.

 (AP)
(AP)

Raducanu said: “I’ve always dreamed of winning a Grand Slam. You say, ‘I want to win a Grand Slam’, but to have the belief I did, and actually executing, winning a Grand Slam, I can’t believe it.

“I first started when I was a little girl but I think the biggest thing that you have visions of, for me it was just winning, the winning moment, and going to celebrate with your team in the box. That’s been playing in my head a couple of nights. I’ve fallen asleep to that.”

While the Queen was among those to congratulate Raducanu on her remarkable achievement, the teenager has freed herself from the commotion back home.

“I still haven’t checked my phone,” Raducanu said after the final. “I have absolutely no idea what’s going on outside of the little world that we’re in here. We’ve just been in the quiet room, just enjoying the moment, taking it all in. I think today we just really need to shut out from everything, just enjoy it as a team, because it was a team effort.

“I have no idea when I’m going home. I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow. I definitely think it’s the time to just switch off from any future thoughts or any plans, any schedule. I’ve got absolutely no clue. Right now, no care in the world, I’m just loving life.”

Raducanu’s team includes her parents, Ian and Renee, who were forced to watch their daughter on TV because of the continuing difficulties of international travel.

“I would have loved them to be here, and we can all celebrate together where they could be with me and experience the same things. But they’re watching from home very proud,” Raducanu said.

“My dad, he said to me, ‘You’re even better than your dad thought’, so that was reassurance. Tinie Tempah reference there. My dad is definitely very tough to please. But I managed to today.”

Raducanu’s US Open campaign marked just her second appearance at a major, following her efforts at Wimbledon this summer. There, the teenager withdrew in the fourth round due to breathing difficulties.

“At the beginning of the grass courts, I was coming fresh off my exams. I had three weeks to practise before my first tournament. I just built up every single match, every single win. I thought Wimbledon was such an incredible experience. Fourth round, second week, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘What a great achievement’.

“But I was still hungry. I was working hard after the grass. I didn’t have much time off. With each match and tournament, I think I’ve really built in terms of confidence, in terms of my game, in terms of my ball striking. Everything came together today.

 (AP)
(AP)

“I think to pull off some of the shots I did in the big moments when I really needed it was just an accumulation of everything I’ve learnt in the past five weeks.”

Raducanu was forced into a medical timeout after seeing Fernandez earn a break point in the final game, the 18-year-old having cut her knee on the court’s surface. She soon resumed play and served out the match, however.

“I didn’t actually want to stop because I thought it would disrupt my rhythm, but I couldn’t play on,” Raducanu said. “I wasn’t allowed to because my knee was gushing with blood. I guess I just went over and was really trying to think what my patterns of play were going to be, what I was going to try to execute.

“Going out there facing a break point after a two or three-minute disruption isn’t easy. I think I managed to really pull off the clutch plays when I needed to.”

As well as a cheque for £1.8million – dwarfing her previous earnings of £220,000 – Raducanu collects 2,000 ranking points and will soar up the standings from 150 to 23.

“I don’t feel absolutely any pressure,” she said. “I’m still only 18 years old. I’m just having a free swing at anything that comes my way. That’s how I faced every match here in the States. It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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