Emma Raducanu ‘needs protecting’ as Sue Barker fears Naomi Osaka repeat

Emma Raducanu supporters in Bromley celebrate win

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Emma Raducanu needs protecting in the wake of her US Open triumph, according to Sue Barker. The 18-year-old faced off against Leylah Fernandez on Saturday evening. And she was far too strong for the Canadian, winning 6-4, 6-3.

Raducanu went into the match against Fernandez having not dropped a single set at the US Open.

And she ended up putting her opponent to the sword, cutting a powerful figure as she battled her way to a 6-4, 6-3 win.

It was a stunning achievement for the teenager, coming just months after she was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering a panic attack on court.

Now, Raducanu is British sport’s new golden girl.

And while Barker is delighted with the triumph, she’s expressed fears over the burden of expectation that will now rest on the 18-year-old’s shoulders.

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Furthermore, the former Grand Slam winner also admitted Raducanu will have to be managed carefully to avoid becoming another Naomi Osaka.

Osaka has fallen out of love with the game and has been vocal about her ongoing mental health issues.

And Barker told LBC News: “We have to remember that Emma is going to suddenly get the pressure and the expectation, she has to have that.

“Personally, the way she’s handling herself, it’s not going to affect her. Hopefully I’m right, with it comes that.

“You mention Naomi Osaka, she was only 20 when she won the US Open and she said it changed her life, changed her life in a way she didn’t like.

“Now, we’re possibly losing her from the game a few years later, which is really sad to see.

“Particularly in this world, not when I was playing in the 1970s, the way social media is used to put pressure on athletes it’s so much harder.

“She needs to be protected. She has a very good team around her and her parents seem so brilliant in the way they’re taking her through, letting her do her A Levels, just managing her career.

“She has great people behind her.”

Raducanu was delighted after the match, saying: “First of all, I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team, she played some incredible tennis and has beaten some of the top players in the world.

“The level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.

“As for this three weeks in New York, I would say having such a supportive team, the LTA, my agent, and everyone back home watching on TV, thank you so much for your support over the years.

“Thank you for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match, you have spurred me on in some difficult moments and I hope me and Leylah put on a good match today.

“Leylah is always going to play great tennis and fight, that is why she is in the final, I knew I would have to dig deep.

“I fell somehow and thought that would throw me off balance – I was praying not for a double fault!

“We got through it and focused on the process and mindset, that really helped in those tough times.”

And she then added of her triumph: “It shows the future of women’s tennis and depth of the game is so great, every player in the draw has a shot at winning any tournament, I hope the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the legends, for example Billie Jean right here.

“It means so much to have Virginia Wade here and also Tim Henman, British icons and for me to follow in their footsteps… it gave me the belief I could do it.”

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