Emma Raducanu has a ‘target on her back’, but former world No 1 confident she will ‘be a top five player’

Emma Raducanu in action

“The word is out” on Emma Raducanu’s game and playing patterns and she will feel “a little bit more pressure”, but tennis great Chris Evert is confident she will get to the top of the game.

Raducanu stunned the sporting world in 2021 when she became the first qualifier – man or woman – to win a Grand Slam as she won 10 matches without dropping a set en route to lifting the US Open trophy.

She climbed into the WTA top 20 after reaching the Transylvania Open quarter-final, but has struggled to put together a decent run outside of those events as she suffered a string of early exits.

Evert, someone who knows a thing or two about being the best in the world of tennis as she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, says the 19-year-old was always going be brought back down to earth following such a great start to her career.

“I think Raducanu has a high ceiling,” she told Eurosport. “I don’t know when we’re going to see it because there’s so many great players out there, and I think she’s still young and she still can improve her game.

“It’s so human to have a little bit of a downfall after you win your first Grand Slam. Most of the women who have won their first Grand Slam title have done that, where all of a sudden they’re not winning anymore. They’re not as dominant as people think they should be.”

Raducanu has signed several major sponsorship deals since her title run at Flushing Meadows, but Evert is convinced that is not a distraction as she believes the teenager will rise once she comes to grips with playing regularly on the WTA Tour.

The American added: “Even though she’s gotten a lot of endorsements and she’s raking in the money, I genuinely feel that tennis is still the number one priority in her mind. I do believe she’s working hard at her game. But it’s going to be tough because now she has a target on her back and now all the players are gunning for it.

“They know she doesn’t have the confidence that she had at the US Open or the unpredictability. They know her game. After a newcomer wins a Grand Slam, every coach is getting statistics finding out ‘does she get more cross-court forehands or more down the line forehands? Where does she go with her first serve normally?’

“They study the player, and now the word is out with all of her patterns.

“She feels a little bit more pressure. So she’s not winning matches, but I feel with time and work, she will get, I think, at the top of the game. I’m not saying number one, but I think she’ll be very much a top five player.”