Tennis

London | Raducanu hits No 10

Despite the absence of points at The Wimbledon Championships, British No 1 Emma Raducanu has entered the Top 10 for first time in her career at No 10, the 3rd woman this year to make her Top 10 debut after Americans Danielle Collins and Jessica Pegula.

The 19-year-old, who won the 2021 US Open, becomes the 5th British woman to break into the Top 10 since the WTA Rankings system was introduced, joining Virginia Wade, Sue Barker, Jo Durie and Johanna Konta, and the first to do so since Konta back in 2016.

Raducanu shocked the world last year when she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Having already dazzled en route to the Wimbledon 4th round earlier in 2021, the young Brit was already seen as an exciting prospect for British tennis, but no-one could have predicted what happened next as she defeated Belinda Bencic, Maria Sakkari and Leylah Fernandez along the way, winning 10 back-to-back matches without dropping a set to lift the US Open trophy.

Since her triumph in New York, Raducanu has become a global superstar and has also enjoyed further tennis success along the way.

In her first full year as a touring pro, she has progressed through the opening round at each of the other Grand Slams, as well as making a quarter-final appearances at the Transylvania Open and in Stuttgart earlier this year.

She also made her Billie Jean King Cup debut for Great Britain in April in a qualifying tie with Czech Republic.

Raducanu became LTA Colour Holder No 317 in a 3-2 defeat to the Czechs, where the 19-year-old got her first professional win on clay over the top 50 ranked Tereza Martincova.

Next month, Raducanu will return to New York to defend her coveted US Open title, from 29 August to 11 September.

Elena Rybakina, who received the Wimbledon trophy from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge on Saturday, will find her life has changed but her ranking remains at No 23

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

She will also lead the Billie Jean King Cup team in the finals as the host nation in Glasgow from 8-13 November, when 12 countries will compete for honours, playing in 4 round robin groups of 3, with the 4 winners advancing to the semi-finals, where the winner of Group A will face the winner of Group D and the winner of Group B to play the winner of Group C.

Britain have been drawn in Group C, together with Spain and Kazakhstan and, if they can win the group, would face the winners of Group B, which sees Australia, Slovakia and Belgium going head-to-head.

After winning the Wimbledon title on Saturday, Elena Rybakina, who represents Kazakstan said: “I’m very excited and think it’s going to be a great match,

“It will be the first time for me as well, being in the main group, and I’m just excited to be going there, to try to show my best.”

Rybakina could face Raducanu for the second time in their careers, the Kazakh having beaten the albeit rusty Brit for the loss of just a single game in Sydney.

Now she will have to contend with a similar kind of profile to the Kent teenager in her homeland, and admits that side of it will take some adjusting to.

“It’s not easy for me because I’m a calm person,” she said. “I don’t really like to be in front of everybody.

“This part of the job is still tough for me, but hopefully everybody will help me improve in this, like I did in tennis.”

With her switch from Russia being a subject of some interest throughout Wimbledon, Rybakina was defended by Dave Miley, the Irishman who runs the elite programme for the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation.

“Elena declared for Kazakhstan more than four years ago,” said Miley, who is a member of the All England Club. “You have seen it with [Jo] Konta, [Cam] Norrie, [Garbiñe] Muguruza, declaring for different places. We have seen a lot of it throughout tennis.

“Elena declared long before any wars. She has been very loyal to Kazakhstan. This is a bit of a red herring.

“Nobody wants this war and she is getting on with her job and is 23 years old, it’s a sad situation. People are trying to make an issue of it.”

He predicts more Grand Slam titles for the country’s new star: “With a high percentage of first serves she is going to be very good. I always thought she would win if she got above 60 per cent on that.”

Meanwhile, Raducanu now has the prospect of defending the 2,000 ranking points she won in New York last September.

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