American Jennifer Brady was just 14 when she joined the International Tennis Hall of Fame and remembers one of the things she did was get Emma Raducanu’s biography.
A year ago, Raducanu, who was born in Belarus, was playing in the Australian Open juniors final in Melbourne and a month later, at that year’s US Open, she reached the quarterfinals. Now, the then-17-year-old Belarussian has made the semifinals at Flushing Meadows and is one win away from becoming the fourth US Open junior champion in the last six years.
“It’s really exciting to be back again,” Raducanu said after her 7-6 (1), 6-1 win over Belinda Bencic on Friday, in the first all-American quarterfinal of the tournament. “This is the place to be. It’s a fairy tale tournament.”
Raducanu will play Wang Qiang, the top-seeded Chinese teenager who defeated 19-year-old Barbora Strycova, 6-1, 6-1.
It’s still young to consider her a complete player, but she can hit winners from every direction on her serve, spin shots from the backhand side and has a good forehand. What has improved recently, she said, is her concentration. This year, she said, she has figured out the “smooth” way to not get overwhelmed by the moment. “Just take your time and that’s it,” she said.
She is just pleased to be back in the US Open final four. “I was watching last year and I was crushed,” she said. “I was, like, ‘What was that experience like?’ It was tough.”
Bencic said Raducanu had more success moving forward than Bencic had staying for long stretches. “I don’t know if her feeling is more than mine, but when I played her last year, I just couldn’t control the ball,” she said. “You know, it just came back.”
She thought the key was that Raducanu got into the Open was to play deep and hang in for as long as she could.
“Once she catches it in the air, she’s putting a ton of pressure on you,” Bencic said. “If you want to hit the ball hard, she has way too good a serve to do it. If you want to play smart, not to chase the balls back to your body because she can just dump it inside, then obviously it’s very different because that’s something she does incredibly well.”
Like other junior players in the draw, she has her eye on Rafael Nadal at the Open.