Raducanu, last British woman standing in New York

And then there was one just Brit left standing in the second round of the US Open of the five in the main draw, and few would have predicted it would be 18-year Emma Raducanu who would be flying the flag for Britain after four more experienced compatriots faltered.

I think I have improved in the last few weeks. Playing at this level week in week out you adapt and if you don't you're going to lose. I've come quite far in maintaining the consistency of the high level and the longer points. As the weeks have gone on, and I've played more matches, I feel very confident in my game and taking the game to the opponent. Emma Raducanu

British No 1 Johanna Konta never made it onto the court, withdrawing ahead of her match with a left thigh injury, while Heather Watson and qualifiers Harriet Dart and Katie Boulter were beaten in the first round.

On her debut in New York, 25-year old Boulter could not counter the power of Russia’s emerging talent Ludmilla Samsonova, the World No 52, and she went down, 6-3 6-2, on Tuesday following Watson and Dart’s defeats on Monday.

Samsonova broke early to go up 3-1 in the first set and although the British No 6 held 4 break-back points, she failed to convert any of them.

Playing with heavy strapping on her right arm, Boulter did save 3 set points but Samsonova’s impressive serving helped the 22-year old Russian close out the set.

Samsonova immediately broke Boulter at the start of the second, kept hold of the momentum and scored a second break before serving out the match, slamming down a forehand volley to seal her place in the second round.


Katie Boulter was outgunned by Liudmila Samsonova in her first round match on Day 2 of the US Open

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Raducanu had little difficulty getting past lucky loser Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 6-2 6-3, on Court 17.

The British No 3 was drawn to play 13th-seeded American Jennifer Brady, who pulled out because of injury and, instead, faced the experienced Swiss 31-year old.

“I was very up for my match against Brady, we were on the Louis Armstrong Stadium and I was looking forward to being on the big stage again,” Raducanu said. “At the last minute I heard I was playing Vogele, so I had to prep last minute but I was just focused on my game and what I could control.

“I felt I served very well, which helped me settle into the match, and I got some cheap points.”

While for the most part, it was plain sailing for Raducanu, it took her 7 match points to seal the win.

“I think it is obviously a difficult thing to serve out your first US Open main-draw win, so that lack of experience probably showed a bit at the end,” she added. “My right arm was feeling a bit heavy but I was happy to get over line.

“Overall I thought I played a good match, with a high level.”

Raducanu, ranked 150 in the world, struck 24 winners against the 128-ranked Voegele

“I feel like I am learning so much, being around these players and hitting with them, I feel like I am absorbing it all, so I don’t feel any pressure,” she said. “It is all a free swing and bonus for me because I don’t have anything to lose.

“Still everything is so new to me and I just love New York, the buzz and everything.

“Walking around the city, it is such an amazing experience. I am just enjoying it and I want to stay here as long as possible, so I will keep fighting.”

The 18-year old showed no sign of nerves despite going down a break down in each set.

After dropping her serve in the first, she reeled off 12 of the next 13 points to clinch the opener in just 27 minutes.

She continued to dominate as temperatures hit 29 degrees and, although she was again broken early in the second, the Brit regrouped but, after being unable to convert 5 match points as Vogele rallied, she produced a nervy double-fault on her 6th.

A brilliant reverse overhead volley, however, set up a 7th chance, prompting laughter from the Brit, who clinched victory when Vogele struck long.

“It is absolutely amazing,” Raducanu told Amazon Prime with her bright smile very evident. “Everyone could tell I was getting shaky at the end, I was so relieved at the end of it.

“I feel really good physically and confident in my game. I’m excited to see how far I can go.”


Emma Raducanu is becoming a crowd favourite in New York

© Elsa/Getty Images

She is fast becoming a fan favourite andhas sealed a spot in the 2nd round, the last Brit standing, where she will face China’s Zhang Shuai on Thursday.

Zhang beat Raducanu, 6-3 6-2, at the Silicon Valley Classic at the beginning of August in what was the teenager’s opening match of the hard-court season, and her first since reaching the 4th round at Wimbledon.

“I have played four matches at the US Open and I’m feeling very comfortable here in the conditions, I feel I have acclimatised well due to the few weeks I have had in the States,” the Londoner, who was born in Toronto, added.

“I don’t think you can compare any two tournaments because there are so many different variables, but I’m enjoying my time here.”

“I know Zhang, we speak quite a lot in Mandarin whenever we see each other,” said Raducanu, who speaks Mandarin with her Chinese mother.

“We got on well and she is a great player. I played her in San José, it was my first game on the hard courts.

“I am going into it this time with the learning from our first one. Hopefully it can be a good rematch and I feel I have come quite far with my game since.”

Yet to drop a set here at Flushing Meadows, and looking physically stronger, Raducanu now has the chance to avenge that recent defeat.

“I think I have improved in the last few weeks,” Raducanu said. “Playing at this level week in week out you adapt and if you don’t you’re going to lose.

“I’ve come quite far in maintaining the consistency of the high level and the longer points.

“As the weeks have gone on, and I’ve played more matches, I feel very confident in my game and taking the game to the opponent.”




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