‘Very, very special star’ Emma Raducanu backed to ‘rule the world’ after winning the US Open

Emma Raducanu with the US Open trophy

Emma Raducanu has been told she can “rule the world” of women’s tennis after her shock US Open win – but has also been warned her new level of fame will be the biggest change following her Flushing Meadows success.

Playing in just her second Grand Slam tournament, 18-year-old Raducanu won all 20 sets she played in qualifying and the main draw to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.

While the result was a surprise to most, Raducanu’s former coach Mark Petchey knows her abilities first-hand and likened her to Sir Andy Murray before claiming she could establish herself among the elite once she improves further still.

“From the first day that I met her at the National Tennis Centre, she does have something a little bit special,” Petchey told Good Morning Britain.

“I think she reads a tennis ball. I can’t really explain it in a scientific way, when I’ve worked with Andy Murray for a year as well and obviously watching Andy from 16, he also had this ability to be able to pick up a tennis ball and in a sport that is played in fractions of seconds, obviously, that allows you to do very special things and Emma has that.

“I think everything could be improved; I think her service is still a work in progress. I think her net game is going to get even better as you get a greater understanding of where to be.

“I think her room for improvement is not just incremental gains, I think they are substantial and I honestly think she is going to rule the world.”

Meanwhile Wade, who also won the US Open in 1968 and the Australian Open in 1972, warned that dealing with an increased amount of exposure could be the most difficult change for Raducanu.

Asked how she handles the new level of fame, Wade told BBC Breakfast: “That is probably the hardest thing these days, to handle that and so she’s got to have very good advice on that.

“Just not to do too much and not to play too much because you don’t want to play that much when there’s so much expectation on you and then you get stale or you lose your motivation, so that is a balance that’s difficult to get.

“I think for Emma, she needs to understand just how good she really is, but you have to constantly work at that to maintain it, she has to have that self-belief – if you believe that you’re better than the others, you’re going to beat them.”

Former British No 1 Annabel Croft echoed Wade’s sentiment as she labelled Raducanu a “very, very special star”.

Having gone from a relative unknown at the start of the year to a grand slam champion, Croft believes Raducanu’s life will never be the same as she hailed her on-court ability.

“I think she really is a very, very special star because these people don’t come around very often,” she told BBC Breakfast.

“You can clearly see there’s been an enormous amount of hard work throughout the course of her life. She’s only very young, she’s 18.

“Everybody will want a piece of her and she seems to be so incredibly mature about everything, even the way she speaks and the way she handles the press, I think she’s incredibly natural.”

Raducanu made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon in July before retiring from her match against Ajla Tomljanovic due to breathing difficulties, with some criticising her as a result.

But Anne Keothavong, another former British No 1, praised Raducanu’s ability to recover mentally from any setbacks.

Anne Keothavong

Anne Keothavong hailed Raducanu as being as “hard as nails”. (Adam Davy/PA)

“The whole nation I think has been surprised but she really does appeal to so many people,” she told Good Morning Britain.

“That fearlessness she brings with her to the tennis court is something special and you can’t help but want to watch.

“She’s tough as nails and anyone who knows her has seen that, she really is a tough competitor.

“She was able to bounce back and she is a tough competitor, she’s very committed to her sport and she’s steely which you want to see in a top player – but the level of focus and her attention to detail is what makes her the player she is.”