NEW YORK (AFP) – British teen Emma Raducanu matched the deepest run by any qualifier in US Open history on Monday, rolling into the quarter-finals and mastering the nervy atmosphere of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 18-year-old defeated American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1 and had US Open fans cheering her over a home-nation heroine as she booked a last-eight date with Swiss 11th seed Belinda Bencic.
“I’m feeling very confident and happy with how I’m performing out here in the States,” Raducanu said. “I feel like I’m building with each match. I’m really excited to see what I can do on Wednesday.”
Raducanu, the Canadian-born daughter of a Chinese mother and Romanian father, made her WTA debut in June and her Grand Slam debut with a fourth-round run at Wimbledon after a long layoff in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m super appreciative of the moment,” Raducanu said. “To be here in the US Open quarterfinals after not playing for 18 months is absolutely just incredible.”
Virginia Wade, the 1968 US Open champion and most recent British woman to capture the New York title, was cheering on Raducanu.
“Had Virginia Wade in the front row,” Raducanu said. “I saw her, spoke to her a little bit after the match. It was just really cool to be able to speak to such legends, get their tips on a couple things.”
She also has gotten advice from British three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray.
“Andy is such an inspirational person to look up,” Raducanu said. “The amount he’s achieved, the amount he can do with his racquet and skill. To have him like sometimes believe in me, support me, I think it means a lot to have had someone like that.”
Raducanu, ranked 150th, coped well with the nerves of playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium
“It means a lot to have gone out there and to have performed,” Raducanu said. “To play on Ashe for the first time, it was a little bit of a nervy experience in the beginning.
“I was really proud of myself, how I managed to settle and regroup and find a level that took me to the win.”
She found support against a US rival, not an easy thing to do in New York.
“I was really grateful to have actually received quite a lot of support,” she said. “I could hear a lot of chants, people saying, ‘C’mon, Emma’. That meant a lot to me to have received that amount of support out on Ashe playing the home player.”
Rogers, who struggled after upsetting top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, praised Raducanu.
“She has been doing a lot of great stuff. I’m excited for her,” Rogers said. “That’s the next generation of our sport, and it’s in good hands.”
Raducanu said wins by teens Carlos Alcaraz and Canadian Leylah Fernandez to reach the quarter-finals helped inspire her to victory.
“It definitely plays a part in motivation,” she said. “I wanted to join them as well.”
Raducanu won’t mind if the longest trip of her life keeps her in the Big Apple through weekend – and the final.
“I’ve been here for over six weeks now. It’s by far the longest trip I’ve ever done,” she said.
“Having gone to some really cool places out here. I’ve been to San Francisco, Chicago, New York. Everywhere is just really cool.”