August 23, 2021
Alexander Zverev and Emma Raducanu are at very different stages in their tennis development.
The willowy German is well known as one of the rising stars in our sport.
Indeed he has almost reached the summit.
All that remains for Zverev is to taste Grand Slam glory.
Flushing Meadows over the next few weeks could provide the perfect place and time.
Wimbledon star Raducanu is just trying to qualify for the US Open, never mind win it.
She thrilled crowds on No1 Court at Wimbledon 2021 to reach week two.
Just imagine what Zverev and Raducanu could achieve at Wimbledon 2022!
For now they are both focused on the final Slam of the year in America.
Zverev warmed up with his fifth ATP Masters 1000 title.
He made it look easy as he swept aside the Russian Andrey Rublev in the Cincinnati final.
Sascha’s serve was too hot to handle as he won 6-2, 6-3 to maintain a perfect record against his opponent.
You could say the real final came against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Cincy semis.
Zverev so nearly lost that one. He was down 1-4 in the final set to the Greek, who also served for the match.
But once more the Olympic champion found his best serves when he needed them.
If he does the same in the US Open then he poses a real threat to Novak Djokovic.
The Serb is of course looking to complete a clean sweep of the 2021 Grand Slams to become the stand-out male player of all times.
Zverev is out to spoil the party as he did in Japan.
Djokovic does however bring a different intensity to his Grand Slam quests and remains US Open favourite.
As for 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, just to reach the main draw would be an achievement.
After tasting superstardom during the British midsummer, and struggling slightly with the pressure, it would have been easy for Raducanu to disappear off the charts for a year while she regrouped mentally.
But Raducanu is made of sterner stuff and just reached her first WTA final in Chicago.
The young Londoner couldn’t quite get over the line to lift the trophy.
That honour belonged to an equally inexperienced Dane called Clara Tauson, who edged Emma 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
Plucky Raducanu served to stay in the match at the death but couldn’t quite hold on.
Still there are consolations.
Raducanu enters the top 150 for the first time and that will give her encouragement going into US Open qualifying.
If she climbs much higher she will earn the right to enter Slams automatically.
And that will truly announce her arrival on the world stage.
We can’t wait to see how the US Open unfolds.
For now Zverev and Raducanu might as well be on different planets.
But by the time Wimbledon 2022 comes around, they could be on a level playing field.
Will you be there at Wimbledon to watch the young stars stake their claim?