Earlier this year, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu shocked the sporting world by powering her way to the US Open title in impressive style. The Canadian-born British starlet romped past some of the biggest names in women’s tennis, all without dropping a single set on her route to success. It was quite a sensation for a young lady who was playing in just her second major tournament to date.
The story is one that has captured the imaginations of countless budding young tennis players across the globe, as well as given the long-suffering British public a female figure to cheer on to Grand Slam success for the first time since Virginia Wade almost half a century ago. The question now is: can she sustain that success going forwards? Will she dominate her sport in 2022 and beyond?
An incredible arrival
Raducanu already signaled her intention to rise to the top of her profession in July of this year, when she made her debut at Wimbledon and progressed as far as the fourth round despite a lowly world ranking of 338th. However, few could have predicted that she would achieve her goal mere months later – or that she would do it in such imperious style.
Raducanu became the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Maria Sharapova in 2004, eclipsing the record set by her fellow finalist Leylah Fernandez just hours earlier. Indeed, the final was the first time that such a showpiece had been contested by two teenagers since a young Serena Williams bested Martina Hingis in 1999.
What’s more, Raducanu brushed aside all-comers with such confidence and ability that it will surely have shocked even the most seasoned spectators of the sport. She didn’t lose a single set and conceded the fewest number of games of any of her competitors in the entire tournament, underlining just how thoroughly she deserved this triumph.
The road ahead
Of course, as impressive as Raducanu’s arrival on the professional women’s circuit has been, it still represents an incredibly small sample size. Will she be able to sustain her outstanding record going forwards? For those who like to bet on upcoming tennis tournaments and matches, it would take a brave individual to bet against her.
That appears to be the consensus from many of her peers, as well. Although there is obvious concern over the need to protect Raducanu from the darker aspects of stardom and press exposure, she has clearly demonstrated that she has a mature head on her shoulders and is the absolute picture of composure, even when under the most extreme pressure.
With that in mind, it’s little wonder that other players are falling over themselves to predict her dominance in the coming years. For former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, Raducanu’s supremacy could extend far beyond 2022 throughout the rest of the decade. “We are witnessing I think the birth of a true superstar, who will dominate the next decade of women’s tennis,” said Bartoli. “It is so cool for you guys in Britain because you have been waiting for that for a long time. I’m really thrilled that it is happening.”
Emma Raducanu is clearly the player to beat in 2022 and beyond: but will she record a clean sweep of Grand Slams at the first time of asking? Only time will tell.