Emma Raducanu will begin her Australian Open campaign tomorrow with a target on her back according to 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert.
Raducanu had a breakthrough year in 2021, becoming the first ever qualifier to win the US Open while ranked 150th in the world. It was only her second ever Grand Slam tournament after receiving a wildcard into Wimbledon and reaching the fourth round a couple of months earlier.
Her spectacular win shot the teenager into tennis history and she went on to win the Sunday Times ‘Sportswoman of the Year’, ‘BBC Personality of the Year’ and was named British number one and awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her services to tennis.
The sudden rise to fame for Raducanu, who is now ranked 18th in the world, has drawn the attention of everyone within tennis, particularly her competitors.
And although she has failed to make an impression at subsequent tournaments since the US Open, Eurosport analyst and former world number on Chris Evert says Raducanu will be a main target for her opposition.
“There’s a lot of pressure and she can’t have that much confidence going into this tournament because she hasn’t won a lot of tournaments,” said Evert.
“You just hope when somebody is ranked outside of the top 100 and they win a Grand Slam, you kind of wonder, are they an outlier or are they meant to be winning the US Open?
“And I just don’t know, if it happened too early for her, maybe a lot of people would think that, but everybody’s gunning for her.”
Raducanu has a tough first match against 2017 US Open Champion Sloane Stephens, who is a former Australian Open semi-finalist.
“Raducanu has got a target on her back because she won the US Open and she still is young and she still hasn’t fully developed her game,” said Evert.
“Saying that, she showed so much maturity and so much composure when she won the US Open, I think that will help her a lot, but she plays Sloane Stephens.
“Sloane again won the US Open, she’s a Grand Slam winner, and in the first round that’s about as tough a first round as Emma could get.
“Sloane just got married and we don’t know how she’s going to be playing either. We don’t know what her schedule has been, what her training has been, did she go on a honeymoon and how much does she play? In saying that it’s going to be probably the most interesting first round match.”
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