TRACY AUSTIN: The US fans are cheering for Emma Raducanu! The crowd have adopted her and are just happy to see a young girl who’s so excited about the moment
- The Arthur Ashe crowd was so much in favour of teenager Emma Raducanu
- Nobody could have seen a qualifier coming through to the US Open semi-finals
- The expectations were higher at Wimbledon were higher with microscope on her
- But right now the 18-year-old seems to be on autopilot, taking it all in with joy
- She will face either Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, the fourth seed, or No 17 seed Maria Sakkari in the last four on Friday morning, 2am BST
I was indoors at Flushing Meadows for some of this match and yet I could still hear exactly who won each point, because the Arthur Ashe crowd was so much in favour of Emma Raducanu.
Many of them may have had no idea who she was when the tournament started, but they’ve adopted her and taken her in.
Nobody could have seen a qualifier coming through to the semi-finals — particularly after eight matches without dropping a set or even being taken to a tiebreak.
Arthur Ashe crowd was so much in favour of Emma Raducanu during her US Open quarter-final
Many of them may have had no idea who she was at the start, but they’ve adopted her
At Wimbledon it was much more of a microscope on her, everyone knew who she was and was cheering for her — the expectations were higher. Here, they’re just happy to see a young girl who’s so excited about the moment. The crowd feels like they’re in on it with her.
Right now she seems to be on autopilot, taking it all in with joy.
That can happen when you’re young — when I was 16 and won here, I wasn’t thinking about being the youngest or beating Chris Evert who’d won here four times.
You’re just thinking this is what I have to do, go out and play the match. Sometimes being a newbie is a good thing, you just play on instinct. That’s what Emma seems to be doing.
Emma has all the weapons. She can finish points off by stepping up and hitting into the corners
She said afterwards she’s taking care of what she can control and it’s her journey. That’s her mantra to deal with pressure. I like that — it’s not about comparing herself to others but just doing her best every day.
She seems to have a good head on her shoulders, she speaks well and getting to the fourth round at Wimbledon probably helped her, it gave her valuable experience.
Emma has all the weapons. She can finish points off by stepping up and hitting into the corners. She has the technique, there’s not a shot she hits that’s poor.
You also look for poise and emotional control. Look at her opponent Belinda Bencic on Wednesday: she started to unravel, thinking she should be winning this match. Emma seems to have the right mental approach in spades.
She controls points early. Her serve is not as big as it will become — it’s at about 110mph at its fastest — but it’s her placement of the serve, the variation of the placement and her recognition of where to move, when to move for the next shot to take control.
Getting to the fourth round at Wimbledon probably helped her, it gave her valuable experience
It stems from an aggressive mindset. She’s taking those balls early in the point and blasting them accurately into the corners.
Her movement is also fantastic. She’s fast out of the corners and when she’s in the corners, she’ll do something with the ball — not just getting the ball back over the net.
In the first few games she had to get used to the pace of Bencic, as the courts are playing really fast here. It took her four or five games but she made the adjustments. She uses her lower body to absorb the pace, she’s not that tall but she uses her lower body to load up, then uncoils and generates her own pace.
Her return of serve is impressive, with her mindset and willingness to attack. She’s winning about 61 per cent of opponents’ second serves — that builds pressure because they have to take a bit off their first serve. They want to get that in as they’re thinking, ‘Emma’s going to drill my second serve right into the corner.’
Her opponent Belinda Bencic started to unravel, thinking she should be winning this match
Bencic, the No 11 seed, was a big level up for Emma, as her previous highest-ranked opponent was in the mid-40s — and the semi-finals will be another jump. But she’s the underdog, so her opponents will feel the pressure more.
Emma’s ranking is going to go so high, she’ll already be the British No 1, which is incredible.
What a tournament like this does is remove any lingering doubts about where her game will end up, and when she’ll have a big break. There’s still room there to grow, and she hasn’t come close to her full potential.
She was world No 338 at the start of Wimbledon, playing small events at little clubs with 20 people watching. Two months later, she’s in a Grand Slam semi-final. It’s astounding.
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