Mats Wilander’s verdict on Nick Kyrgios and Emma Raducanu’s US Open hopes

·4-min read
Nick Kyrgios antics Credit: PA Images
Nick Kyrgios antics Credit: PA Images

They are the two wildcards heading into this year’s US Open and eight-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander has given his verdict on what to expect from Nick Kyrgios and Emma Raducanu.

Kyrgios is heading into the final major of 2022 with inflated expectations, as he is now seeded and proved his big-match credentials with his run to the Wimbledon final in July, yet Eurosport analyst Wilander suggested it will be tougher for the Aussie to shine in a packed field at the US Open.

“We have to be careful because it’s hardcourts – I think hardcourts is the main difference, pretty much every player in the draw likes to play on hardcourts, Rafa Nadal included,” said Wilander.

“We know that on grass, that is not the case at all. People love to play at Wimbledon, but they don’t love the grass – and Nick Kyrgios does, of course like Wimbledon, but also the grass.

“So, that he’s going to have a tougher time against players that we might not expect him to have a tougher time against, of course it helps to win in Washington and to get that confidence. Maybe because he hasn’t played many matches in the last couple of weeks, it will keep him fresh but I think we have to be a little careful.

“I do believe after Wimbledon that we will see him take that step at some point, whether it’s in Australia or in Wimbledon, I’m not sure. I do think that there is a very good chance he will win a Major before he’s done.

“I don’t know if his US Open record shows that he’s that keen as it’s not as easy to just say, “Oh, he must have confidence, he’s got the level.” You also have to like the place and I don’t think I’ve seen enough of his love for the US Open yet to say that this is a tournament that he’s dying to do his best at all times. There’s no switch. You either feel it or you don’t feel it.

“And you can force yourself to do your best but in your heart, you have got to feel that this is the most important tournament in my life. It’s not fair to expect him to feel like that just because he made a Grand Slam final.”

When he considered the prospect of defending US Open champion Raducanu making her mark once more in New York, Wilander suggested the British teenager is ready to be a shock contender once again.

“I think we have to be prepared that she can take another run, for sure because when she plays well, she has a consistency in her game that is incredible and mentally she is there all the time, every point,” he stated.

 Credit: PA Images
Eurosport analyst Mats Wilander

“The question is because she won it, there’s so many women that either believe it themselves, or they are told by their teams and their coaches that “Hey, Emma Raducanu won the US Open, so why can’t you?”

“So, I think that by her winning, she’s opened up a can of worms where it used to be maybe five to 10 players that literally believed they could win it. Now you have got 50 players that think they can win it and that makes it much harder.

“But for Emma, the only thing that I’m a little concerned is that last year at the US Open, I thought we were watching someone who a) was moving better than most; b) was mentally stronger than most. And then c) nearly the most important – she was actually overpowering some of these women and I think that is the question mark.

“I haven’t seen her overpower any other women. She’s won matches by fighting and by moving well and by being consistent, but I thought that during last year’s US Open she showed that she has that little extra in both sides, forehand and backhand, she has a little extra in the serve as well. Of course, she is complete but the question is, is she may be lacking that killer shot that Rybakina has or Iga Swiatek has? Will that be the difference in the end?

“I believe Emma is going to make 15-20 quarter-finals in Grand Slams before she’s done because of her consistency, but does she have the weapons on the day that the likes of Rybakina and Swiatek are playing great.

“How can Emma Raducanu then hurt them? We have to be so careful with Emma Raducanu. We have got to give her a few years to be on Tour. She hasn’t been on Tour, she doesn’t know what that means.”

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