“I feel like I’m swinging with the same sort of freedom as I probably had, more similar to last year” – Raducanu looks ahead to US Open
After two statement wins and a narrow loss to Pegula, Emma Raducanu heads into the US Open playing with more freedom than recent months
Emma Raducanu came into this week with a lot of question marks surrounding her game and her status as one of the marquee names in the sport. While the 19-year-old Brit may have exited the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati in the third round on Thursday, she did enough to answer some of those questions with two statement wins and the rediscovery of her free-flowing attacking style of play.
Raducanu defeated two former world No 1 players, 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams and two-time Major winner Victoria Azarenka, both in straight sets, before falling to American Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-4 in two tight sets.
But her progress this week was enough to give her some confidence heading into her US Open defence, more importantly because the Brit teen feels she is rediscovering the freedom that she played with en route to her historic run last year.
“So it feels really good. I think that I can really take it as a positive week, and I actually feel like I’m heading in a good direction again. I think that it is definitely like relieving, because I feel like I’m swinging with the same sort of freedom as I probably had, like, more similar to last year,” Raducanu said.
“I think that at the US Open I played really good tennis. I was swinging with, like I said, the freedom that I started to tap into this week. And I did really enjoy this week, like if I made an error, it was almost like a positive thing, like, good, you are kind of going for it. It paid off a lot more than it didn’t.”
The 19-year-old said the switch was prompted since she got tired of being pushed around on court and wanted to play with a more attacking mindset which she feels has paid off.
“I kind of just got tired of like pushing the ball around and having people hit the ball and they’d run me around. I was just, like, Look, I have tried that for pretty much a year. I’m just to like do something. If I’m going to lose, I’m probably going to lose anyway pushing the ball around at this level. It just doesn’t work. I’m just going to do it and, yeah, give this tournament a swing. And it worked,” she said.
I think I am still trying to find the balance, as you say, and just trying to package my game together more so.Raducanu
In her first full season on the tour, Raducanu is still learning how to make the best use of her weapons and her game even as she deals with expectations from people to reproduce her US Open-winning form on a weekly basis.
“I just need to kind of put them (the different aspects of my game) together and, for example, some weeks I have served really, really well, like I think over the clay in the beginning I served really well. Then like some weeks, I don’t know, it would just disappear and then I will become more of a defensive player. Then I will become more of an attacking player. So I think I am still trying to find the balance, as you say, and just trying to package my game together more so. But like I said, every match at this level kind of I figure out what works, what doesn’t work, how I should be hitting the ball. I feel more confident in what I’m doing now.”
With a freer and more confident outlook, Raducanu is now looking forward to the US Open, which begins on August 29, and says she can’t wait to get back to one of her favourite cities.
“I just love New York as a city, so I can’t wait to go back (smiling). I really have been craving a bagel for the last year (smiling). So I can’t wait to go back to New York. It’s one of my favorite cities out there. I’m just really looking forward to go see the city, of course. But then, of course the tournament, I’ve got special memories there from the juniors, I made quarters, and then last year obviously that happened. I’m looking forward to it, Raducanu added.