Emma Raducanu soars into US Open semis

Emma Raducanu continued her history-making march at the US Open last night.

The teenage tennis sensation swept into the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows with an impressive victory over Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.

Her fairytale run means she is the first British woman into the last four in New York since Jo Durie in 1983.

Emma Raducanu hits a return to Belinda Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Emma Raducanu hits a return to Belinda Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Emma Raducanu hits a return to Belinda Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women’s Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates her win over Bencic during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women's quarter-finals match

Raducanu celebrates her win over Bencic during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women's quarter-finals match

Raducanu celebrates her win over Bencic during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women’s quarter-finals match

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women’s Singles quarter-finals match

Raducanu hugs Bencic after their match on day ten of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament

Raducanu hugs Bencic after their match on day ten of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament

Raducanu hugs Bencic after their match on day ten of the 2021 US Open tennis tournament

Raducanu returns a shot to Bencic during the quarter-finals of the US Open tennis championships

Raducanu returns a shot to Bencic during the quarter-finals of the US Open tennis championships

Raducanu returns a shot to Bencic during the quarter-finals of the US Open tennis championships

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Emma Raducanu celebrates after defeating Belinda Bencic during her Women’s Singles quarter-finals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

From Wimbledon to the US Open: Emma Raducanu’s rise up the world rankings 

Emma Raducanu reached the US Open semi-finals with a 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory against Belinda Bencic.

Here, we look at the 18-year-old’s rise.

2018 – Reaches the quarter-finals of two junior grand slams, at Wimbledon and the US Open. Turns professional, and wins her first two ITF titles at tournaments in Tel Aviv and Antalya. Finishes the year with a world ranking of 692.

2019 – Reaches two more ITF finals, winning her third title at the event in Pune, India. Continues to edge up the world rankings with a year-ending mark of 503.

2020 – Reaches the final of ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Sunderland, and sees her ranking improve to 343 at the end of the year. 

June 2021 – Loses to compatriot Harriet Dart in her main WTA debut in Nottingham, but reaches the quarter-final of a lower-level tournament at the same venue the following week, where she pushed former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova. 

July 2021 – Handed a Wimbledon wild card, making history by beating Vitalia Diatchenko, Marketa Vondrousova and Sorana Cirstea to become the youngest British woman to reach the fourth round in the Open era. Forced to retire during her match against Ajla Tomljanovic due to breathing difficulties. 

August 2021 – Reaches the final of the WTA 125 tournament in Chicago, losing to Canada’s Clara Tauson but rising to 150 in the world rankings. 

August/September 2021 – Fights through three qualifying matches to make the main draw of the US Open. Proceeds to beat Stefanie Voegele, Zhang Shuai, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Shelby Rogers and Belinda Bencic, all without dropping a set, to become the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals in the Open era and guarantee a top 50 world ranking.

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The straight sets win over the 11th seed ensures the biggest pay-day of her career, guaranteeing her at least £490,000 in prize money. 

It also means she will become Britain’s No 1 and be just outside the world’s top 50.

The 18-year-old, from Bromley, south-east London, will aim to go one better in her semi-final tonight, a match due on court at midnight against either Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova – this year’s losing finalist at Wimbledon – or Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari.

Emma was an unknown ranked 338 in the world when she entered Wimbledon in June, straight after completing her A-levels. 

She captivated the nation with a run to the fourth round before being forced to quit through illness. 

She now has her eyes on emulating the great Virginia Wade, the last British woman to win the US Open – in 1968, nine years before she won Wimbledon.

Miss Wade predicted that Emma is ‘in that handful who will be dominating tennis’ in the coming years.

Having fought through three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw of the US Open, Emma marked her victory against Miss Bencic, 24, by clasping her head with her hands in a mixture of shock and celebration. 

A smile broke out as her achievement sank in.

As the crowd clapped and cheered, she told them: ‘I am so happy to come through and thank you so much for all your support today. 

‘To have so many young players here doing so well shows how strong the next generation is – everyone is on their trajectory, so I am just here doing what I can control and it is my own journey.’

During a tense final game, she had looked over at former player Tim Henman in the stands, who shouted: ‘Two more points and you’ll be fine.’

After the game, he said: ‘This was a significant step up in class. She thoroughly deserves to be in the semi-finals.’

Former British player Mark Petchey said: ‘Emma Raducanu is fast becoming the queen of Queens. 

‘In a city that never sleeps, she is putting her name up in lights.’

After the match Emma told Amazon Prime: ‘Of course, playing Belinda, she is such a great opponent and is in great form, she hits the ball so hard, I had to adjust and adapt and it was a really tough match. 

‘I am so happy to come through and thank you so much for all your support today.

‘I have an absolutely amazing team and I have a team back home who could not be here – I am sure they are watching, I hope!

‘Thank you so much everyone, I wish you could be here with me but everything we have been working for has shown here.

‘It was 0-30 in my last couple of service games so to hold was pretty big, it was one point at a time and trying to focus on what I can control – Belinda was going to fight to the end but I am really pleased to come through that.

‘To have so many young players here doing so well shows how strong the next generation is – everyone is on their trajectory, so I am just here doing what I can control and it is my own journey.’

Raducanu made a tentative start, losing her opening service game and falling 2-0 behind, but she held her nerve and broke back in the sixth game to draw level at 3-3.

She then played her best game, on serve, to go in front for the first time at 4-3 and began to find her range and rhythm.

A superb forehand winner gave Raducanu another break point in the eighth game and she clinched it with the help of a net-cord in the next rally.

Bencic, the 11th seed, found herself under increasing pressure as Raducanu closed in on the first set and the Brit held serve to take a one-set lead.

Raducanu spurned a chance for two break points in Bencic’s opening service game in the second set as the Swiss produced a brilliant backhand pass and then took the next two points to hold.

Bencic then fashioned two break points of her own in her bid to wrestle back the initiative, but Raducanu stubbornly refused to be broken.

The Olympic gold medallist, who had won 13 of her 14 previous matches heading into the last-eight clash, comfortably held to love to edge 2-1 in front.

Raducanu levelled it up after hitting her fourth ace on a crucial point at 30-30 after two forehand winners from Bencic had put her in the ascendancy.

The Brit then cranked it up as a brilliant forehand return gave her two break points and she sealed her second break of the match as Bencic buckled with a double fault.

Bencic was up against a wall and a net-cord took her forehand out as she trailed 40-15 on Raducanu’s serve, to give the teenager a 4-2 lead.

Another double fault from Bencic in her next service game gave Raducanu break point, but the Swiss hit back with three quality winners to hold and trail 4-3.

Raducanu was 30-0 down on her next service game but, with the aid of four straight errors from her opponent, moved 5-3 ahead and edged closer to the finish line.

Bencic produced an ace to hold serve and keep her hopes alive at 5-4, with one more chance to break Raducanu, who served for the match.

Raducanu then double-faulted to trail 0-30, but won the next two points and delivered an ace to give her match point.

Raducanu serves to Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu serves to Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu serves to Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu reacts after upsetting Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu reacts after upsetting Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu reacts after upsetting Bencic during their quarter-finals round match on the tenth day of the US Open Tennis Championships

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women’s Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women’s Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women's Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Raducanu celebrates match point against Bencic during her Women’s Singles quarterfinals match on Day Ten of the 2021 US Open

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women's Singles quarter-finals match

Bencic returns against Raducanu during her Women’s Singles quarter-finals match

Bencic waves to the crowd while leaving the court after her match against Raducanu

Bencic waves to the crowd while leaving the court after her match against Raducanu

Bencic waves to the crowd while leaving the court after her match against Raducanu

Bencic then hit a forehand into the net as Raducanu secured a semi-final clash against either fourth seed Karolina Pliskova or Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

She had been forced to retire during the second set of her Wimbledon clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic due to ‘difficulty breathing’, bringing her fairy-tale run at the grand slam to an abrupt end as her parents and thousands of spectators watched on.

Raducanu was taken off court requiring medical treatment after losing the first set 6-4 to Tomljanovic before retiring 3-0 down.

She appeared to be clutching her stomach during the second set before quitting the tournament to the shock of her fans inside and outside No1 Court. 

Raducanu had become the nation’s last hope of success at Wimbledon after British superstar Sir Andy Murray crashed out of the grand slam.

US tennis legend John McEnroe suggested ‘it got a bit too much’ for Raducanu after he told presenter Clare Balding that she buckled under the pressure and got ’emotional’.  

Raducanu was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten

Raducanu was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten

Raducanu was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two. She first picked up a racquet aged five and played at Bromley Tennis Academy from the age of ten 

During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live

During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live

During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live 

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions 

McEnroe said: ‘I feel bad for Emma, I mean obviously it got – it appears it got a bit too much, as is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about for the last six weeks. How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long, how well they can handle it. 

‘These guys that can keep their composure and the girls out there are absolutely amazing – so we have to appreciate the players that are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from this experience.’ 

Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance in June at the Nottingham Open, Raducanu has had previous success in youth competitions. 

During lockdown, she could be seen knocking tennis balls back and forth to her dad in the quiet cul-de-sac where the family live.

On her Instagram page, the rising star references her global roots listing London, where she lives now, Toronto, and the two cities where her parents are from – Bucharest in Romania and Shenyang in China.

Her dual heritage remains important to her and she’s spoken fondly of relatives across the globe, saying: ‘My grandma, Mamiya, still lives in central Bucharest. I go back a couple times a year, stay with her, see her. It’s really nice. I love the food, to be honest.

‘I mean, the food is unbelievable. And my grandma’s cooking is also something special. I do have ties to Bucharest.’   

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