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Raducanu rolls over Rogers to meet Bencic in US Open quarter-finals

Britain’s new star, Emma Raducanu, charged into the quarter-finals of the US Open on Monday, the 18-year old crushing home favourite Shelby Rogers on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

I was really grateful to have actually received quite a lot of support out there on Ashe, playing an American. I could hear a lot of chants, like people saying, ‘C’mon, Emma’, and my name... Also today, had Virginia Wade in the front row. I saw her, spoke to her a little bit after the match. It was just really cool to be able to speak to such legends, get their tips on a couple things. Emma Raducanu

It was the first time she has played on the largest tennis stage in the world, and the teenager took a few minutes to look around and savour the atmosphere before getting down to business, winning 6-2 6-1 in an hour 6 minutes.

“I definitely wanted to take it all in,” she said. “I went out there to practise this morning, but there was no one in the crowd.

“So it did feel different going out there with a crowd, all of the lights, displays on the board. It did take some adjusting.

“I was really trying to enjoy the moment. It’s something that you dream of, to play on Ashe, the biggest court in the world.

“I really didn’t expect to be here so soon. I just really wanted to be in the present.”

There were a few inevitable opening nerves for the girl from Bromley as Rogers dominated and won the opening 2 games and held points for 3-0, but Raducanu found her wheels and her range to roar past the American, winning the first set without further loss in just 27 minutes, and building a 5-0 lead in the second over the World No 43.

Rogers pulled off the biggest win of her career with a 3rd-round upset of Australia’s World No 1 Ash Barty on Saturday, but could do little to stop Raducanu’s momentum on this occasion.

The 28-year old American had rallied from 5-2 down in the third set to take out Barty, but despite winning the penultimate game, Rogers could make no further inroads on Raducanu.

“That was pretty embarrassing,” admitted Rogers, who had 29 unforced errors to just 14 by her opponent. “It was a tough day at the office.

“Unfortunately I had to fail in front of thousands and thousands of people. So I have to live with that one.

“It took everything I had to beat Barty. I guess that was a little apparent today. The tank was a little bit empty.”

Later Rogers praised Raducanu to the media, saying: “I have watched her the last few months. She’s been doing a lot of great stuff, but I don’t think she had much of a challenge today.

“I’m excited for her. That’s the next generation of our sport, and it’s in good hands.”


Shelby Rogers upset Ash Barty in the previous round but could not get past Emma Raducanu on Arthur Ashe Stadium

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Raducanu became the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 1990 to reach the 4th round in their first two Grand Slam appearances, having made the second week of Wimbledon earlier this year.

Her run at Wimbledon came to a premature end after she retired mid-match with breathing issues, but there is no sign any recurrence here in New York, where she continues to make history by coming through 3 rounds of qualifying and 4 in the main draw to reach the last 8.

From the 3rd game of the match, it was one-way traffic for Raducanu, who is ranked 150, and quickly settled herself in.

“It means a lot to have gone out there and to have performed,” said Raducanu later. “Shelby Rogers is an extremely experienced opponent, so I knew I would have to bring it today.

“To play on Ashe for the first time, it was a little bit of a nervy experience in the beginning.

“I was really proud of myself, how I managed to settle and regroup, and find a level that, at the end, took me to the win.”

In the quarter-finals she will face Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medal champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who advanced with a 7-6(12) 6-3 win over Polish 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek.

Both Bencic and Raducanu have yet to drop a set at the US Open.

“I feel like I’m building with each match,” said Raducanu, who hammered Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo with the loss of just one game in the previous round. “I’m really excited to see what I can do on Wednesday.

“Belinda’s a great player, who’s in great form, so I know I’m going to have to bring it.”


Former champion Virginia Wade (C) seated with USTA Chairman of the Board and President, Michael McNulty (R) and actor Marylou Mellace (L) watching Emma Raducanu beat Shelby Rogers on Monday

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With Virginia Wade, a New York resident and the last British woman to win the US Open in 1968 as well as Wimbledon in 1977, was among the appreciative spectators in the front row when Raducanu clinched victory on her 4th match point, becoming the youngest British woman in the Open Era to reach the last 8 at Flushing Meadows.

Her performance has captivated the hearts of New Yorkers, who cheered her on, even against their fellow American.

“I was really grateful to have actually received quite a lot of support out there on Ashe, playing an American,” Raducanu told the media. “I could hear a lot of chants, like people saying, ‘C’mon, Emma’, and my name.

“That meant a lot to me, to have received that amount of support out on Ashe.”

“Also today, had Virginia Wade in the front row. I saw her, spoke to her a little bit after the match. It was just really cool to be able to speak to such legends, get their tips on a couple things.”

As for 12th-ranked Bencic, who is competing in her 3rd US Open quarter-final, Raducanu said: “She has a lot of experience on the tour. She’s in great form.

“I’m also feeling good about my game, also confident with the amount of matches I’ve played. I feel like I’m building with each one.”

Raducanu’s breath-taking rise after taking time away to focus on her A levels is extraordinary, having been ranked outside the world’s top 350 in June and now projected to break into the top 75, while one more victory would make her the British No 1.

Remarkably, she has dropped just 15 games in her 4 main draw matches, fewer than any other women’s quarter-finalist in New York since Serena Williams in 2013.


Belinda Bencic won an epic breaker against Iga Swiatek and then cruised the next set to set up a quarter-final meeting with Emma Raducanu

© Al Bello/Getty Images

Her next opponent, Bencic, continued her stellar summer by defeating 7th-seeded Swiatek after an epic opening battle on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The Swiss failed to serve out the opening set at 5-4, but came out on top of a 26-point tiebreak, maintaining her record of not having dropped a set here.

“Very happy to be through,” said Bencic. “Of course it was a very difficult match. Very close tiebreak.

“So it was very important, I think, to win that first set and then start well into the second.

I’m happy with how I fought. I felt like I could have played a little bit better, but of course Iga is a player who doesn’t make it easy for you.

“It was very important the first set. It’s mentally important because when you lose a set like this, it’s very frustrating. A little bit bitter.

“Then I started to focus on the next set and tried to go up again quickly, so I put pressure on her again.”

Swiatek is the only woman to reach at least the 4th round at each Grand Slam this year, but the French Open is the only tournament where she has gone further, winning the title there in 2020.

The Pole, who admitted to struggling with the pressure of expectation earlier in the tournament, said: “For sure it was really tough but she plays great tennis right now.

“So I’m pretty happy with my performance, because I came back in the first set and it was pretty hard to use the chances that I had, and win the set balls, because she was playing just great.

“I’m just mad a little bit that I didn’t come back in the second set and I drifted away a little bit.”


Iga Swiatek had 4 set points but could not close out the opening set and ultimately fell to Belinda Bencic on Monday

© Al Bello/Getty Images

The thrilling 84-minute opening set culminated in the longest tiebreak in terms of points played of the US Open so far, outdoing Simona Halep’s 7-6(11), 4-6, 6-3 third-round scoreline against Elena Rybakina.

Capturing the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games has rejuvenated the former World No 4’s game, and her wave of confidence was apparent in the contrast between this match and her last encounter with Swiatek when she went down in straight sets in the Adelaide final in February.

Swiatek was broken in the first game, and spent the rest of the set clinging on to avoid the double break, with the 20-year-old surviving at least one deuce to hold her next 3 service games in the face of some breathtaking Bencic returns.

A double-fault from the Swiss invited Swiatek back into the contest when she served for the set, and the Pole seized the momentum with stellar down-the-line winners of her own.

Swiatek held her first set point at 6-5, and even after Bencic saved that, she retained control to take a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak.

From 2-5 down, Bencic rattled off 4 straight points to move to 6-5, and she would also lead 7-6 and 8-7, but after Swiatek saved that trio of set points, it was her turn to inch in front at 9-8 and 10-9, the latter set up by a breathtaking 85mph forehand winner down the line.

Swiatek missed that chance by sending an easy volley wide, and could see the funny side of her msicue, giving a sarcastic thumbs-up to her team.

After a fourth set point for each player came and went, it was Swiatek who finally buckled and consecutive forehand errors from the former Roland Garros champion saw Bencic over the line on her 5th set point.

Both combined for 47 winners to 28 unforced errors in the spectacular first set, with Bencic posting a 23-15 ratio, and Swiatek 24-13.

An early break by the Swiss helped her maintain her lead to the finish line, largely thanks to winning 74% of her first serve points.


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