Spotlight on Emma Raducanu shows no signs of diminishing at Australian Open

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Emma Raducanu
    Emma Raducanu
    British professional tennis player
  • Sloane Stephens
    Sloane Stephens
    American tennis player
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Nike put out a new advert last night featuring Emma Raducanu.

In it, the camera focuses on her on court as giant words light up behind her: distracted, perfect, fluke, flawless, one-hit wonder.

It sums up the spotlight on her every move since that fairytale run at the US Open, and ends with the logo: ‘World Off. Game On.’

At 19 years of age and in what is the start of her first full season on the WTA Tour, to switch off the noise around her as well as she did in New York last year is a hard ask.

All manner of pundits were lining up for their take on the British teenager as her 2022 started inauspiciously in her sole warm-up tournament in Australia.

It took her opponent, Elena Rybakina, just 55 minutes to win their match in Sydney.

To her credit, Raducanu appeared to take it in her stride, smiling almost bashfully in the moment she won her sole game.

Losing to Rybakina, one of the leading players in the world, is no disgrace but, as her Nike advert highlighted, she is well aware of the potential barbs that would inevitably come her way.

Despite that defeat, expectations are still high for Raducanu in Australia as one of the players picked to be on the main poster for the event dotted around Melbourne.

And yet there is every likelihood that she could face a premature return home having been given a tough draw against another former US Open champion in Sloane Stephens.

Ominously for Raducanu, that Grand Slam title has proved the 28-year-old Stephens’ only one to date and she has dropped down to No65 in the world.

Stephens is all too well versed in the fall back down to earth from a career high. Asked about Raducanu’s meteoric rise and that fairytale in New York, the American said: “At some point, you come back down and it’s very emotional – I will say that. It’s brutal.”

The teenager has had that. For all the positives of the accolades over the Christmas award period of the year, she managed to win just two more matches after the US Open and was then struck down with Covid just as she was beginning her first big block of training with new coach Torben Beltz.

Stephens made the point that amid those down moments that Raducanu was still “carrying the weight of a whole country”, a facet she never had to experience after her US Open win. And all eyes will be on her however it plays out in Melbourne.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting