There was a beautiful irony in what the remarkable Emma Raducanu achieved on Saturday night in New York and in the way she achieved it.
When she lost at Wimbledon just a few weeks ago, forced to withdraw from her fourth-round match with respiratory problems, some, including John McEnroe, suggested she may not have been made of the right material.
What she did in New York defies belief. It was different from the world. They were movie scripts. It’s one of the greatest underdog stories the sport has ever spawned.
Emma Raducanu’s US Open win was otherworldly and one of history’s greatest underdog stories
This is a player that no one had heard of a few months ago and now she has won one of the biggest awards in the sport without losing a set. It’s Leicester City’s winning season in the Premier League, compressed into one impossibly surreal two weeks in the Big Apple.
Raducanu was utterly ruthless in her dismissal of her Canadian opponent, just as she has been for the past two weeks and more. She broke her heart in the second game of the match when Fernandez saved a lot of breakpoints in a massive game and finally succumbed to Raducanu’s strength and style.
“Emma is the one who pushes all the boundaries,” said an admiring Martina Navratilova during her commentary.
What Raducanu did defies belief and will be looked back on as the start of a wonderful career
Therefore, in a way, the way she played felt even more important than the history she was writing. Because this tennis was of high quality.
This was the kind of tennis that suggests that Raducanu’s astonishing win at Flushing Meadows will be seen in years to come, not as a fluke, but as the gilded start to a wonderful career.
Women’s tennis has been looking for a leader since Serena Williams’ genius finally started to fade and in Raducanu it may have just found it.
It had been 44 years since Virginia Wade became the last British woman to win a Grand Slam title, but the way Raducanu made his way through the field in New York last week suggested we might not be long on the next. having to wait.
She came from the fringes of tennis, played her first US Open when she was 18, and was on top
When Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, she was known to her fans through the wringer on her way to her victories. She duly lost the first set of the women’s singles final to Betty Stove before winning the next two sets. Raducanu has done it in a different way. She is utterly ruthless in the way of her victories.
When she lost her serve early in the second set and fell behind, some wondered if she would burst and if Fernandez, who had made sensational comebacks earlier in the tournament against the world’s best players, would do it again. Raducanu simply broke Fernandez back in the next game.
“Want to know how she reacts if she loses her raise?” Navratilova laughed, ‘that’s how she reacts.’
The great thing about what Andy Murray achieved when he won the US Open in 2012 and became the first Briton in 76 years to a Grand Slam title was that it was a slow burn. He had fought and fought for it.
Raducanu’s performance in New York is sensational without precedent in sports history
He was 25 and had played in it eight times and in the era of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, people began to openly wonder if he would win a big one.
It was not like that for Radacanu. The beauty of what Raducanu accomplished was that she’s blown through tennis like a hurricane that gave little warning that it was forming. She came from the fringes of tennis, playing her first US Open at age 18, to be on top.
In the struggle to come to terms with what tennis has been through in New York for the past two weeks or more, analysts have turned to tennis history in their search for answers. But the answers weren’t there.
Raducanu has revolutionized and proved that she is really made of the right material
Because what Raducanu achieved at the US Open was unprecedented in the history of the sport. No one had made it through the qualifying tournament to a Grand Slam and then won the Slam themselves.
For something similar to what Raducanu has done, keep looking. American golfer Collin Morikawa won the American PGA title in his first attempt last year and followed it up by winning The Open at Royal St George’s this summer, again in his first appearance at the British edition of golf’s legendary Majors.
In tennis, Raducanu is on his own. She was revolutionizing here in New York, and by the time someone realized she was taking power, it was too late. She even played the final games of the match with a torn knee after cutting it while trying to retrieve a smash. Yes, she’s made of the right stuff.