Andy Murray has described Emma Raducanu’s US Open title as “very special” after she became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title for 44 years on Saturday.
Nine years after Murray won the first of his three Grand Slam titles at the US Open, 18-year-old Raducanu stunned the tennis world by beating fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in Flushing Meadows.
Raducanu, the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam title, did not drop a set throughout the tournament.
“It was incredible what she did there,” Murray, who himself ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam champion when he beat Novak Djokovic in the 2012 final, told the BBC.
“What she did in New York was very special, a huge boost for British tennis and gives hopefully the governing bodies an opportunity to capitalise on that and get more and more kids involved in the sport. It’s great what she did and a huge opportunity for British tennis now.”
The 34-year-old Murray, who has long shouldered the burden of British tennis, said he knew how good Raducanu was when she reached the Wimbledon fourth round earlier this year.
“I’ve spent a little bit of time around her on the practice court, but more so in the same building, training close to each other, and watching what she’s doing, and she’s obviously really, really good,” the former world number one said.
Murray wins in Rennes
After going out in the first round at the US Open, Murray continued his comeback at a Challenger event in Rennes on Monday, saying he wanted to play matches and boost his ranking.
“Obviously I would like to try and win the event,” said the Scot who on Monday beat German Yannick Maden 6-3, 6-1, in the first round at Rennes.
“Most importantly, for me, is just to get matches. I want to keep playing, competing and get my body used to playing two, three, four matches in a week again”.
Murray, who underwent right hip surgery in 2017 and again 2019, lost in five sets to third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round in New York, where the Scot won the third of his major titles in 2012.
“One of the goals between now and the end of the year is to try and make a big improvement with my ranking, and to do that, I need to be competing often,” said the 34-year-old who is ranked 116.
“I still feel like I can play a very high level but if all of the time when I go to the big tournaments I play top players right at the beginning of the event, it’s not so easy”.
“The Challengers often have good players. We have three guys that have been in the top 10. That’s quite rare. There should be some good matches, and it’s nice for the crowd to come out and watch the French players,” he said.
Raducanu’s toughest challenge is coping with the fame game
Emma Raducanu has spent her time hopping from one media interview to another since her fairytale US Open triumph and how she deals with her new-found fame could be as important as her tennis skills for her long-term success.
The 18-year-old Briton stunned the world with her improbable run to the title last week, triggering comparisons with some of the greatest achievements in sport.
Her innocence, youthful exuberance and contagious smile have made Raducanu an instant hit with fans and the media and sports marketing experts believe she could become one of the world’s most marketable athletes.
Raducanu is not the first teenager to win a Grand Slam title, of course, and the experiences of other women who have made their breakthroughs on the game’s biggest stage in recent years illustrate that sudden fame can be a mixed blessing.
“I often say that we prepare how to deal with a loss but we often don’t prepare for success,” Daria Abramowicz, a sports psychologist who works with Pole Iga Swiatek who won the French Open at the age of 19 last year, told Reuters.
“The biggest challenge from psychological perspective as we consider high performance sports is to adapt and adjust to this new reality... in terms of partnership, sponsorship, business side of things.”
Swiatek’s French Open triumph was almost as stunning as Raducanu’s and she said it changed her life overnight, leaving her struggling to adjust to her celebrity status and keep up with the financial and media demands.
The most graphic example is that of Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who has been marked as the next dominant player in women’s sport since she announced herself on the big stage with her US Open triumph in 2018.
Still only 23, four-times major champion has struggled with mental health issues she thinks were triggered by the massive burden of expectation on her.
Raducanu has experienced help at hand as she is managed by super-agent Max Eisenbud, who turned Maria Sharapova into the highest-earning female athlete after the Russian won Wimbledon aged 18.
Katie Spellman, who represents multiple major winners Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, said her advice to Raducanu’s team would be to focus on quality over quantity in terms of media commitments.
Spellman also suggested professional media training for her and addition of someone to Raducanu’s team who could help the teenager manage her social media accounts, which have seen the number of followers rocket in last few days. (Reuters)
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