A Special Talent: Raducanu Believe It?
Emma Raducanu’s exploits at the US Open so far have been nothing short of exceptional. The 18-year-old is through to the women’s singles semi-final against Maria Sakkari following a quarter-final win over Swiss 11th seed Belinda Bencic. In reaching the final four, the British teenager is the first player – male or female – in the Open Era to reach the last four of the American Grand Slam having started her campaign in qualifying.
Ranked just 150th in the world, her win over the 12th-ranked Bencic saw her defeat a player in the top 20 for the first time in her career.
Ahead of her semi-final tie with Sakkari, we look at the most impressive Opta facts about her journey so far.
- Emma Raducanu has reached her first WTA semi-final. The British player has played one Challenger semi-final (in Chicago in the previous Tournament played prior to US Open, winning against Claire Liu) and eight ITF semis (W5 L3).
- Raducanu is the first qualifier ever to advance to the Women’s singles main draw semis at the US Open.
- She is the first British player to reach the Women’s semi-finals at the US Open since Jo Durie in 1983.
- Emma Raducanu could become only the second British player to reach the Women’s US Open final in the Open Era after Virigina Wade in 1968.
- Raducanu is looking to become the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and the first British tennis player since Andy Murray in 2016 at Wimbledon.
- Emma Raducanu is only the second British player to reach the semi-finals in a Women’s Major since 2000, after Johanna Konta (Australian Open 2016, Wimbledon 2017 and Roland Garros 2019).
- Prior to Emma Raducanu, only three players have reached the semi-finals in a Grand Slam tournament after taking part in qualifying: Christine Matison at the Australian Open 1978, Alexandra Stevenson at Wimbledon 1999 and Nadia Podoroska at the French Open in 2020.
- Raducanu is the first female player to reach at least the Fourth Round in her first two Grand Slam appearances since Jennifer Capriati in 1990 (French Open semis and Wimbledon Fourth Round).
- Emma Raducanu is the youngest player to reach the semi-finals at the US Open since Maria Sharapova back in 2005.
- The Brit is just the third woman outside the top-100 WTA ranking (150) to reach the semi-finals at the US Open after Billie Jean King in 1970 and Kim Clijsters in 2009.
- Raducanu has made 22 breaks at the 2021 US Open so far, a joint record in the Women’s tournament this year (alongside Aryna Sabalenka).
- The 18-year-old hasn’t dropped a single set at the US Open on her way to the semi-finals – including the three matches she played in qualifying.
Should Raducanu win the semi-final against the Greek, she would become the 10th British female to reach the US Open singles final, and the first to do so in 53 years. There have only been five post-war appearances by British women in the US Open singles final and we run through those, below.
Can Raducanu etch her name into the history books?
1955 – Patricia Ward Hales
Lost 6-4, 6-2 vs Doris Hart (USA)
It had been 25 years since a British female had reached the final of the US National Championships – now known at the US Open – when top-seed Betty Nuthall defeated Anna Harper 6-1, 6-4 in the 1930 final. Patricia Ward Hales ended that run with her journey to the 1955 final, before being defeated by top-seeded US star Doris Hart in New York City.
This was Hart’s second US Open singles title and her sixth – and final – Grand Slam single title overall. She retired following this tournament, after also winning the mixed doubles tournament with Vic Seixas.
For Patricia Ward Hales, this was her sole appearance in a Grand Slam singles final, with the closest she got to repeating the feat coming just a year later – reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1956 before losing to fellow Brit Angela Buxton.
1959 – Christine Truman
Lost 6-1, 6-4 vs Maria Bueno (Brazil)
Ann Haydon-Jones is one of the most decorated British female tennis players of all time, with three singles titles and four doubles Grand Slam titles to her name across her career. Unfortunately for her, she was unable to win either of her US Open final matches across 1961 and 1967.
This first US Open final followed a victory earlier in the year, in the 1961 French Championships Grand Slam singles title. Like Truman two years previous, she had the chance to become the first British female to win two Grand Slam singles titles in the same year, but also like Truman, she lost. This defeat came at the hands of top-seeded American Darlene Hard, 6-3, 6-4.
1967 – Ann Haydon-Jones
Lost 11-9, 6-4 vs Billie Jean King (USA)
Haydon-Jones had the chance to win the US Open again in 1967, six years after her defeat in the final. However, she would once again lose to an American in the women’s singles final – this time to Bille Jean King, who won the first of her four US Open titles with this 11-9, 6-4 victory in New York City.
The Briton had only lost the 1967 Wimbledon singles final to Jean King two months prior to this defeat and would only appear in one more US Open tournament – reaching the semis in 1968.
Overall, in her career Haydon-Jones reached nine Grand Slam singles finals, with the last being her 1969 Wimbledon victory. The only British females to appear in more are Blanche Bingley (1885-1901), Charlotte Cooper (1895-1912) and Dorothea Chambers (1903-1920).
1968 – Virginia Wade
Won 6-4, 6-2 vs Billie Jean King (USA)
Virginia Wade’s 1968 US Open singles title is one of only four occasions that a British female has won this Grand Slam title, with Mabel Cahill (1891 and 1892) and Betty Nuthall (1930) the only two other women to win it since it began as an amateur event in 1887.
The 1968 US Open was the first edition of the tournament in the Open Era of tennis and offered prize money – totalling $100,000 – for the first time ever.
She defeated the top seed Bille Jean King 6-4, 6-2 in this final – Wade’s first career Grand Slam singles title and her only singles win at the US Open. For Jean King, this ended a run of five successive wins in Grand Slam singles final matches and stopped her from completing the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open treble after previous winning in Melbourne and London earlier that year.
Wade went on to be victorious in the women’s singles at the 1972 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1977, eventually becoming the first female to win three of the four Grand Slam singles titles since Angela Mortimer’s 1961 Wimbledon win.
Additional research by Nicolo Tonato.