September 8, 2021
Emma Raducanu just became the first tennis starlet to go all the way from qualifying to the US Open semi-finals.
No wonder she dropped her racquet and held her head in her hands in a moment of pure joy.
Raducanu looked up at tier upon tier of admiring fans at Flushing Meadows and took it all in with that huge smile.
She is capturing practically every heart in New York and earning worldwide attention.
Not since Andy Murray burst onto the scene have we witnessed a British player looking quite so special.
She just beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 and made the in-form Swiss look ordinary.
It wasn’t just the score-line that made everyone sit up and take notice once more.
Emma Raducanu doesn’t seem to have a technical weakness in her game.
It’s extraordinary to be able to say that about an 18-year-old.
But it all seems to come so naturally to her. Backhand and forehand winners, first and second serves, she has the lot.
Of course there is room for improvement. It would absurd for anyone to say someone so young is already the perfect player.
But if you are looking for some obvious frailty to expose, there simply isn’t one.
Ah, we hear you say, but what about resilience? What about the all-important mental side?
After all, she had to retire at Wimbledon when she couldn’t control her breathing in the heat of the moment.
Yet Emma Raducanu even seems to have mastered the psychological challenges of big-time tennis now.
Bencic was 3-1 ahead in the first set and looked in control. Raducanu kept herself in contention and then raced away with the next five games.
Raducanu admitted: ‘Belinda is such a great opponent, she hits so hard. I had to adjust and adapt.’
It didn’t take Emma very long.
Once she finds her rhythm these days, Raducanu seems unstoppable.
Bencic asked searching questions in the second set. She tried to make the teenager crumble. She didn’t.
We’re not saying everyone’s new favourite is going to win the US Open at the first time of asking.
But she is in the last four and therefore she has to be in with a chance.
She is taking the adventure in her stride this time.
‘I’m focusing on what I can control and I have a great team with me,’ she explained.’
Who knows how far she can go before she comes home?
What we can all agree is that Britain has a new superstar. To say her future is bright could be a massive understatement.
What can Emma Raducanu achieve at Wimbledon 2022 and beyond?
Could she become even bigger than Andy Murray in time?
It’s possible. It really is.
Of course, she will have to win Grand Slams and the odd Olympic medal for that to happen.
That is a tall order but she looks capable of great things.
Emma’s popularity will grow and grow. She is already hugely marketable.
She has time for people after matches. She is generous. She looks the part on the big stage.
No one knows for sure whether she will become bigger than Andy Murray.
But we do know the timing is perfect.
As Murray plays the last few massive matches of his career, so Raducanu is playing the first huge matches of hers.
She is the heir-apparent to the British tennis crown.
The beautiful thing is that both Murray and Raducanu should star at Wimbledon 2022.
What a tournament that promises to be!
Will you be there?
The amazing scenes we are witnessing in New York are only the beginning.