Emma Raducanu sets up blockbuster clash with World No 1 after timely return to form

Emma Raducanu thinks she will have “no pressure” on her shoulders when she faces the World No 1 on Friday.

The 19-year-old has secured back-to-back wins for the first time in 2022 to reach the third round of the Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. After opening up with a comfortable straight sets win over Australian Storm Sanders, she went through a tough assignment against Tamara Korpatsch.

After Raducanu took the first set 6-0, the German played fought back to take the next one 6-2. However, the British star regained her best form in the decider, taking it 6-1.

It all amounts to an impressive showing thus far in her first professional clay singles tournament, as she builds towards a French Open debut in May. The US Open champion will be back on centre court for her last eight tie against Iga Swiatek.

The Polish player is in the midst of a 20-match unbeaten run, having taken over at the top of the rankings following the retirement of Ash Barty. The 2020 French Open winner was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open this year, before winning three WTA 1000 tournaments in Qatar, Indian Wells, and Miami.

The 20-year-old will go in as favourite at Roland Garros, but Raducanu is looking forward to the challenge. Remarkably, it will be the first top-10 player she has faced in her career.

Raducanu has won back-to back games for the first time in 2022

Raducanu has won back-to back games for the first time in 2022
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“Of course, she is in great form. It will be an interesting match,” she said, via The Sun. “She is number one in the world – so I feel like I have no pressure going out there, playing on clay against her. I am looking forward to the match.”

Raducanu hadn’t played a single tour game on clay until this month’s Billie Jean King Cup, but wasn’t fazed as she beat Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic 7-5 7-5.

She was then well beaten by Marketa Vondrousova though as Team GB lost their tie 3-2, but feels the match with Swiatek is another good chance to upset the odds: “It could be a good opportunity. I feel there are no expectations of me in the match-up.”

Raducanu shot to superstardom last September when she became the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. Having made the final without even dropping a set, she continued that run to prevail against fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez.

It cemented a year in which she jumped more than 300 places in the rankings, having also made the last-16 of her maiden Slam at Wimbledon. Her feats saw her crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Raducanu also took the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, although her form struggled upon her immediate return her action. Her clash with Swiatek will represent the first time they pair have have played each other.

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