Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year
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US Open champion Emma Raducanu still “doesn’t have the respect” of fellow players according to one tennis legend. Raducanu, 19, completed one of the most memorable coup’s in the history of the sport at Flushing Meadows in September, when she became the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Her triumph came off the back of an impressive Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon in July, where she surged through to the last 16 before retiring early from her match with Ajla Tomlijanovic, citing breathing difficulties and sickness.
The displays helped her rise to no 19 in the world by the end of 2021, a meteoric rise considering she started the year only just inside the world’s top 350.
However, since her very own fairytale of New York, things haven’t gone smoothly for the Canadian-born star, parting company with coach Andrew Richardson and trialling a series of different mentors before employing German Torben Beltz.
Upon her return to action she exited at the first round stage of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, and despite being the top seed crashed out of the Linz Open in Austria in the second round.
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Her woes continued at this week’s Sydney Tennis Classic event, where she was brushed aside 6-0 6-1 by world number 13 Elena Rybakina.
And now Mats Wilander, himself a winner of seven Grand Slam titles, has said the British player still has much to achieve before she’s considered a formidable talent by her peers.
“Mentally it’s not that easy to suddenly create some kind of artificial confidence from winning a major.”
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Swedish great Wilander will know what Raducanu must feel like, having won the 1982 French Open aged just 17, beating the legendary Ivan Lendl in the process.
“I knew I had beaten the best players in the world along the way and my confidence level got really high. That was because I’d done something before I won the French Open as well,” he continued.
“For her [Raducanu], getting [to] the fourth round of Wimbledon was amazing, but I think she needs a few more matches under her belt so the locker room sees she can be good, even on her worse day.
“We were looking for stories on the women’s side of the game and then we had Naomi Osaka before Emma and Leylah Fernandez came along. The way they behaved on court stole everybody’s heart and it was too good to be true.
“Why did she win? (the US Open). Some of the players she faced along the way like Maria Sakkari, this was their chance and they couldn’t step up to the plate,” the Swede claimed.
“You can have a good two weeks on tour these days and it was much harder to do that years ago when power was not an issue.”
A good run at Melbourne Park would certainly boost Raducanu’s status within women’s tennis, and to her credit she didn’t wallow in self-pity after her defeat to Rybakina.
“After the match I got a box of balls and went straight to the practice court,” the British no 1 told reporters.
“I felt like I could have done some things better in the match and I wanted to try and fix it straightaway, just leave with a better feeling about it.”
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