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Holder Raducanu plays down pressure: “I think defending a title is just something the press makes up”

The British teenager says she’s learned a lot from her first full year on the WTA Tour

Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open Imago / Panoramic

Twelve months ago, Emma Raducanu arrived at the US Open as the world No 150, with most people thinking that if she qualified for the main draw, she would have done well.

Ten matches later, the then 18-year-old was a Grand Slam champion, her victory over Canada’s Leylah Fernandez ensuring her name will forever be in the history books.

A year on and Raducanu is the No 11 seed, having experienced numerous firsts on the WTA Tour as she learned the ropes, finding her way and coming through some tough situations.

With 2000 points to defend from last year’s stunning win, Raducanu could well tumble down the rankings if she doesn’t make the second week but the teenager says she’s not worried about what people think she may or may not do.

“I think you guys are thinking probably more about pressure and ranking than me,” she told reporters at the US Open on Friday.

“I think defending a title is just something that the press makes up. I’m just taking it one match at a time. Like, every single player is very capable in this draw. I just focus on what I’m doing, my own trajectory. As I said last year, I’m just going to do things my way.”

Doing things her own way worked pretty incredibly last year as Raducanu, who had made the fourth round at Wimbledon, won 10 matches in a row, all in straight sets.

The year since has inevitably been tougher, the expectations increased, the challenges enhanced. From being unknown, she’s now a player to be shot at, a target for others hoping to make a name for themselves.

The experience of a first full year on Tour, she said, including a recent win over Serena Williams, should stand her in good stead.

“It’s great for me to come here having done a year on the tour, having played most of the tournaments,” Raducanu said.

“I’m really happy with what I’ve sort of done this year and how I’ve come out of certain situations.

“The biggest (change) I think maybe, like, a lot of people around,” she said. “That’s probably one thing that’s changed. Before I could do whatever I wanted, be left to it. I think that now more so, like, there’s a lot of people around me at all times. It’s something that just comes with what I do.

“I think I adjusted to it throughout the year. But it’s part of the sport, part of what I do. Yeah, no complaints.”

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