British teenager Emma Raducanu produces another confident show to pass Chinese veteran Zhang Shuai in straight sets and reach the third round at the US Open
- Emma Raducanu delivered another impressive display to Zhang Shuai. to see
- The British teenager took victory in just 81 minutes on Thursday
- The 18-year-old will now face Spain’s world No. 41 Sara Sorribes Tormo
A storm has departed from New York, but another has arrived in the form of Emma Raducanu, blowing spectacularly into the third round of the US Open.
After Flushing Meadows was ravaged overnight by excessive weather, the sun came out and the British teenager, who has now won five matches in straight sets, is also returning to the start of last week’s qualifying.
China’s best player and world No. 49, Zhang Shuai, became the last to receive treatment when she was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by the 18-year-old from Kent.
British teenager Emma Raducanu delivered another impressive spectacle for Zhang Shuai . to see
Like the move from West End to Broadway, Raducanu has followed her second Grand Slam appearance in the fourth round on the grass of Wimbledon on the hard court. It’s an unprecedented first two Majors for a British teenager in the modern day.
Laura Robson was a fraction younger when she reached the third round of the US Open in the third round eight years ago, but no one from the UK has started their career at the highest level like this, not even Andy Murray.
With the transport from New York greatly disrupted by the flooding, it was an early start for Raducanu, but she was prepared: ‘It took us about 90 minutes to get in and it was a bit of a rush to the warm-ups. We knew something was going to happen after last night and I just hope everyone is safe,” she said.
“I knew there would be some setbacks in the race, but I’ve had five now and I’m very comfortable with the conditions. I wanted to win so badly and I play better and better every game.’
She now joins Dan Evans in the last 32 and will face the world No. 41, Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, who has won a plethora of competitions this year, including beating Ash Barty at the Olympics.
Superior in every division, the teenager took the win in just 81 minutes on Thursday
The Spaniard will be up against a player who is thriving before our eyes and seemingly getting better by the week.
One measure of that is that less than a month before, Raducanu played against Shuai in California, winning just five games.
That result seemed barely credible as she began to dismantle the game of a seasoned top 50 player who was good enough during her career to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
Catching the ball again early and always itching to get ahead from the baseline, Raducanu looked set to win every match until the Chinese player started to make it competitive with a 0-4 deficit in the second set.
At least the 6-2 deficit in the opener undermined the extent of her dominance, which started with a love break.
Inevitably, Shuai offered some resistance and made life harder towards the end, with the slight tension added by the sound of a marching band passing over the fence past their outer court.
The 18-year-old passed 32-year-old Zhang, who is 101 places ahead of her
“I twisted my mind into thinking they were supporting me, so actually that helped me in the end,” Raducanu said.
She remained firm and served it with little drama when asked the question. Her first-time entry rate was again above 70%, but it was the quality of her return that stood out this time.
Zhang tried to attack her forehand, but there are already few holes in her game to punch through.
Later today, Evans will make his second attempt at the last sixteen of a Grand Slam when he tackles 22-year-old Australian Alex Popyrin.
The British number one will have to use his trickery to defuse the brute force of the 6′ 5′ world number 73, just as he did when the two met in the first round at Queen’s Club in June.
As Evans acknowledged, the odds will be equalized this time around by the fact that they’re playing on a hard court, a surface much better suited to his opponent’s moves. Popyrin came through when Grigor Dimitrov withdrew from their second round.
The 31-year-old Midlander has made it to the third round three times before and if he can pull back enough returns, he has a good chance of getting better on this occasion.