US Open: Emma Raducanu hopes she has found the right formula again ahead of title defence | Tennis News
Emma Raducanu hopes she has found the right formula again as she prepares for her US Open title defence with a tricky first-round match against wily Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
Not even in the craziest dream could Raducanu have foreseen how the next year would play out when she took her place in qualifying at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago.
The unbelievable high of her first Grand Slam title has been followed by the inevitable struggles to adjust to life as a full-time tennis player in the full glare of the spotlight.
Raducanu at least goes into the tournament with some good form behind her after victories over Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams in Cincinnati while the US Open balls, derided by Iga Swiatek among others, play to her strengths.
She has a tricky first-round draw against wily Frenchwoman Alize Cornet on Tuesday – join our game-by-game blog from midnight for live updates.
“I think looking back I can say there’s been many months in the year since that I haven’t actually been swinging freely,” said the 19-year-old.
“It’s very easy at the time but, when you have absolutely no idea what’s about to hit you, to say something like that, I was still on that energy from those two weeks. Obviously a lot of stuff has happened since.”
Can Raducanu retain her US Open title?
Fifteen different players have won major titles since the beginning of 2017 and so far eight of those are one-time champions.
Raducanu, who is having a trial period with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov, was also being noticeably more aggressive during her practice sessions and she intends to maintain the same approach.
“There’s been tournaments for sure where I wasn’t doing that but I’m very pleased with Cincinnati, how I was able to play, and I think to see the rewards that brings, playing Serena and Vika back to back and having a pretty tight match against Jessie (Jessica Pegula), my level was definitely showing some positive signs,” she said.
“Results and wins, they don’t come by often but obviously when they do you have to really cherish it and take the positive energy from it and I do take the confidence of knowing I have the ability to produce that sort of level.
“To play Vika and Serena, even if it’s not necessarily all about tennis, a massive part is mental, just to stay focused, not be intimidated by who you’re playing on the other side of the net.
“To have that belief which I did have in Cincinnati, I think I’m just going to carry that through and try and keep that up here.”
Raducanu took her first steps back in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday, taking time to soak it all in before a practice session with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
“Twelve months, it’s obviously a bit of a long time, but, coming back here, it honestly feels like I’ve never left,” she said.
“Coming to the city, it’s just gone so quickly. So much has happened but I feel like I was here yesterday or last week. It’s a really strange feeling. I’ve obviously learned a lot but time flies.”
Asked if she is feeling any pressure ahead of her first-round match, Raducanu replied: “I think defending a title is just something that the press makes up. I’m just taking it one match at a time. Like, every single player is very capable in this draw. I just focus on what I’m doing, my own trajectory.
“As I said last year, I’m just going to do things my way.”
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Who else is in action on Tuesday?
Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie begins his campaign with a match against Frenchman Benoit Paire. He is first up at 4pm on Court 11 – join our game-by-game blog for live updates.
Fellow Brit, Dan Evans, seeded 20th, is second on Court 10 against Czech Jiri Vesely.
Spanish duo Carlos Alcaraz and four-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal are on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Sebastian Baez and Rinky Hijikata respectively.
Two-time champion here Naomi Osaka faces 19th seed Danielle Collins in a blockbuster night match.
Women’s world No 1 Iga Swiatek is first up on Louis Armstrong Stadium against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.