Emma Raducanu claimed she had “no concerns” about her fitness despite fighting back tears as she twice stopped her practice session at the US Open on Friday. “It’s just one of those weird days where you feel a bit like nothing,” said the Kent teenager.
The British No 1 became the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows last year. But the Kent teenager has been dogged by injuries since – including suffering from blisters at the Australian Open in January and a side strain before Wimbledon.
On a sweltering morning in New York before afternoon storms, Raducanu was clearly distressed when she first stopped her practice with Ekaterina Alexandrova. That was after about 40 minutes and she was comforted by her coach Dimitri Tursunov and her physio Will Herbert.
She was also holding her taped right wrist. After restarting for five minutes, she then ran off the court to the locker room. She returned 15 minutes later to complete her session with the Russian world No.28 before she later claimed she had just had a bad day at the office.
“I had a few small things, got a couple blisters, a bit of a niggle here and there,” she said. “It’s just one of those weird days where you feel a bit like nothing. You just feel a bit out of it. I can’t really explain myself, to be honest. I’m sure everyone in this room has probably had a day like that. Yeah, it is what it is. I have no concerns of an issue, no.”
Raducanu returned to the scene of her greatest triumph yesterday admitting her immediate flashback was of feeling ill before making tennis history. “I think it’s really nice to be back in New York,” she said. “When you get out of the car here, the last memory I have before the final that morning, I felt so sick in the car here.
“I felt so carsick. I just blamed it on being carsick. But I think I was a bit nervous, too. The whole car journey, my head was in my hands. I was like: ‘What’s going on?’ As soon as I got out of the car, I just promised myself: ‘Look, you just fake it, do whatever you can’, and it worked well that day.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve sort of done this year and how I’ve come out of certain situations.” After only 13 wins in 15 tournaments this year, the world No 11 will fall outside the world’s top 80 if she loses to France’s Alize Cornet in Tuesday’s opening night match in the Louis Armstrong Stadium (at midnight UK time).
But asked about feeling the pressure, the 19-year-old retorted: “I think you guys are thinking probably more about pressure and ranking than me. I think defending a title is just something that the press makes up. I just focus on what I’m doing, my own trajectory. As I said last year, I’m just going to do things my way.”
Raducanu beat fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final. And the Canadian said yesterday she often speaks to her conqueror – but not about the US Open – and claimed their meeting had a greater significance than just tennis.
“I think the message is nothing is impossible and dreams do come true,” said the world No 14. “I think doing it here in New York was even greater because New York is where all dreams do come true, where you feel like big things happen.
“I think that’s, like, a message for everybody, that it doesn’t matter what people say, it doesn’t matter the situation that’s happening. But if they can get through that little hump, keep working, keep being resilient, keep pushing through, I feel like dreams come true one way or another.
“That’s, like, a perfect story for the both of us. We’ve had different paths, but we’ve been through difficulties together. We’ve achieved our own dreams, our own goals.”