Can Emma Raducanu repeat her Grand Slam heroics in 2022 after stunning US Open win?
Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year
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Emma Raducanu is gearing up for her first full season on the tour. The 19-year-old will be the woman to beat in 2022 thanks to her historic US Open win, which saw her become the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam. She will face a tough task to win another Major next year, but has already proven she can beat the best players on tour.
Raducanu enjoyed an unprecedented breakthrough this year when she won the US Open as an 18-year-old qualifier, ranked down at world No 150 – a then- career high.
Beating the likes of recent Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic and French Open semi-finalist Maria Sakkari on her way to the final, the Bromley local then beat fellow-teenager Leylah Fernandez to not only become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam, but the first woman to lift the title on her second appearance at Major level.
Now ranked at a career-high of world No 19, ensuring her a seeding at the Slams, Raducanu becomes a big scalp on the tour and will face an even bigger challenge to win more Major titles now she is no longer an unknown prospect.
Express Sport takes a look at Raducanu’s chances of repeating her Grand Slam success in 2022, and the biggest challengers she faces on the way.
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Naomi Osaka has already proven that it is possible to back up a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open by winning the very next Major tournament in Australia, doing so in January 2019 after she ended the 2018 season as the champion in New York.
But it will be no easy feat for Raducanu, as everyone will now know her game style and be able to plan their tactics ahead of a match with the 19-year-old.
There are also plenty of players who could stop the teenager in her tracks, including world No 1 Ash Barty, who will be the favourite not only as the top seed, but as the home hero.
Several players will also come in as favourites following a successful end to 2021 including WTA Finals champion Garbine Muguruza, Indian Wells winner Paula Badosa and Anett Kontaveit, who won two titles back-to-back to secure the last spot at the year-end finals, where she made it to the final.
Raducanu will still like her chances though, as she has already proven she can win a Grand Slam on a fast hard court in New York, and will like the conditions in Melbourne.
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Roland Garros will prove more of a challenge for Raducanu, who has no clay tournament appearances to her name in her young career across both the ITF circuit and the WTA Tour.
As a junior, she has competed in the girls’ singles at the French Open and only had deep runs on the surface during the LTA 10 & Under and 12 & Under Clay Court Tournaments between 2011 and 2014.
Raducanu will also face strong competition at the French, with multiple players enjoying success on the clay courts including the likes of two-time Major champion Simona Halep and former world No 3 Elina Svitolina.
She could still have a chance though, as the likes of Ash Barty managed to win their maiden Grand Slam titles on the surface despite not feeling it was their best.
Raducanu has good signs going into the grass-court Major, as she has a home crowd advantage and made the round-of-16 during her Grand Slam debut at the tournament last year, as a wildcard ranked at world No 338.
However, it will also be the first time in the 19-year-old’s young career that she will be defending ranking points, adding new pressures she won’t have experienced before.
There will also be inevitable expectation on her shoulders as the home hero, but Raducanu has shown her ability to handle pressure well following her retirement from the tournament last year, following it up with a title win in her very next Grand Slam appearance.
If she can silence the background noise, the world No 19 has already proven she can make a deep run at Wimbledon and by July, will have the experience that allows her to go even further.
Similar to Wimbledon, Raducanu will be facing monumental pressure she has never experienced before – attempting to defend a Grand Slam title.
It’s a tough task for anyone, let alone someone who will barely have completed her first full year on the pro tour, as the last female singles player to successfully defend a Grand Slam title was Serena Williams at the 2014 US Open.
However, the Bromley teenager will also take confidence from the fact that she has already been able to win the event, and will only be a more experienced and well-rounded player when she returns to Flushing Meadows 12 months later.
At the US Open, and all of the Grand Slams, she will need to watch out for a new unexpected Major champion who, like herself in September, could tear through the draw and upset the favourites before making it to the trophy themselves.
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