US Open 2021: Emma Raducanu beats Zhang Shuai to reach third round


Raducanu, ranked 150th in the world, will move up to the brink of the top 100 after this US Open run
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

British teenager Emma Raducanu delivered another impressive display which belied her youth and inexperience as she swept aside China’s Zhang Shuai to reach the US Open third round.

Raducanu won 6-2 6-4 against 32-year-old Zhang, who is ranked 101 places higher than the 18-year-old.

Superior in every department, Raducanu needed one hour and 21 minutes to win.

Next she will face Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on Saturday for a place in the fourth round.

Following her stunning run to the Wimbledon last 16 as a wildcard, Raducanu is backing up that breakout display in New York.

Raducanu qualified for her first major last week and, unfazed by the magnitude of playing in her first overseas Grand Slam, has continued to create a buzz at Flushing Meadows.

A throng of fans packed once again into court 10 to watch why Raducanu has emerged as Britain’s brightest young talent and the Kent teenager did not disappoint.

After securing victory, Raducanu stayed on court posing for countless selfies with star-struck fans – a gauge of the excitement which is surrounding her.

“I love it here. I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve been receiving here in the States. Honestly, it’s taken me a bit by surprise,” Raducanu said.

“Of course I really want to connect with the fans because they’re doing so much for me, getting me through some really tight moments.

“Connecting with them, I have so much fun, especially the younger kids. I hope that they can get a little bit inspired.”

Stunning win shows how far Raducanu has come

Playing aggressively and confidently from the start, Raducanu dominated to such an extent that the scoreline alone did not fully do justice to her superiority.

With Raducanu leading by a set and a double break, even a glum-looking Zhang was stunned by the quality of her opponent.

Eventually the world number 49 – an experienced player who has won more than 500 singles matches – fought back in the second set. By that time it was far too late.

Delving deeper into the match stats helps paint a fuller picture of Raducanu’s brilliance.

On serve, she won 28 of 33 first-serve points as Zhang won just 11 return points.

Her returning game – characterised by clinical timing and precision off both wings – yielded 27 winners and produced just 11 unforced errors as the Briton won 49% of return points.

There was a slight dip as she closed in on victory, but none of the edginess of her first-round win – where she needed a seventh match point to beat Swiss opponent Stefanie Vogele – in the latter stages.

“She was definitely going to throw everything at me and wasn’t going to let me run away with the match,” Raducanu said.

“As soon as I dropped off my level, like five per cent, she was all over me and had me running corner to corner.

“I’m very proud of myself to regroup and come through the match, being resilient is one of my strengths.”

When the pair met in San Jose at the start of August – Raducanu’s first match since reaching the Wimbledon last 16, where she retired with breathing difficulties and dizziness – Zhang won in straight sets.

This display was a measure of how far Raducanu has come since then in terms of execution, confidence and physicality.

At Wimbledon she was ranked 338th and now, just four events later, is closing in on a place in the world’s top 100.

Emma Raducanu celebrates winning at the US Open
Raducanu has not dropped a set in her five US Open matches – in qualifying and the main draw – at the event

‘The ceiling is so high for Raducanu’ – analysis

Former British number one Laura Robson on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:

Emma Raducanu played a phenomenal match. She was under so much pressure towards the end and handled it well – I can’t believe she is 18 years old.

I don’t want to be on the hype train but how can you not when she is playing this way?

I haven’t seen many bad days from Emma recently and her base level is is right up there with the best players.

The ceiling is so high for her.

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