Emma Raducanu’s searing run from the depths of the US Open qualifying tournament to the highest levels of the sport continued on Wednesday as she defeated Belinda Bencic, the Olympic gold medallist and 11th seed, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals on her debut appearance in New York.
As she basked in the glory of her unexpected run, Raducanu revealed that such were her realistic expectations, her flights were booked for the end of the qualifying tournament. She has overstayed her original plans by a week and a half.
“I have just been focusing one day at a time, taking care of each day,” Raducanu said. “When you’re playing tournaments, you just get into this sort of autopilot mode of your routines, recovering on the day off in between. I didn’t expect to be here at all. I mean, I think my flights were booked at the end of qualifying, so it’s a nice problem to have.”
With her success, Raducanu continued a breakout tournament for teenagers by joining Leylah Annie Fernandez in the semi-final. The pair are only two months apart in age and Raducanu says she has known the Canadian since they were competing in Under-12 tournaments. Yet as she was asked about her, Raducanu stressed that each player is on their own path.
“I think to compare yourself and your results against anyone is probably like the thief of happiness, and everyone is doing their own thing. I mean, I didn’t compete for 18 months, but here I am, and it just shows that, if you believe in yourself, then anything is possible.”
Along with her quality and belief, Raducanu’s composure has been striking throughout the tournament and, as she trailed 0-30 in her final two service games against Bencic, she found a way to escape each time. She says her calmness is a product of her no-nonsense upbringing.
“I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court, because, yeah, when I was younger, it was definitely an absolute no-go if I had any sort of bad attitude. So from a young age I definitely learned that and it’s followed me until now.”