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Emma Raducanu has been handed a tough first match since her incredible US Open success. The 18-year-old is set to make her first appearance since sensationally winning at Flushing Meadows.
Raducanu broke all sorts of records in New York. She became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
Her feat was made even more remarkable by the fact that she started the tournament as a debutant qualifer. She conceded afterwards that she had her flight home booked for after the qualifying rounds.
But Raducanu remained for two further weeks and remarkably beat fellow teen Leylah Fernandez 64 6-4 in a thrilling final. That result meant that she had failed to drop a set despite a grueling 10-match sequence.
She now faces her first appearance since that triumph. Raducanu is competing at Indian Wells this week and could face a clash against her idol Simona Halep if she navigates her second-round match.
Raducanu will receive a bye through the first round as she is one of the top 32 players in the world. Her incredible success at the US Open, which followed a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, has seen her climb over 310 places in just 10 months.
The Bromley-based star was ranked 345 at the start of Wimbledon. She reached the fourth round where she devastatingly had to retire after experiencing breathing issues against Ajla Tomljanovic.
Raducanu is now the World No 22. That allows her to enter Indian Wells at the second-round stage.
And she will face the winner of the first-round tie between Maria Camila Osorio and Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The pair are ranked 71 and 100 in the world, respectively.
A win in the second round could set up a third round showdown with Halep, one of Raducanu’s idols. Both Halep and Elise Mertens have been awarded byes and meet in the second round.
An incredible victory over former World No 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Halep would set up ties against more of the best on the WTA tour.
Raducanu is in the same half of the draw as Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic and Iga Swiatek.
She defeated World No 10 Bencic 6-3 6-4 in the quarter-final at the US Open.
The teenager could also face Sorana Cirstea, the World No 40 who she beat 6-3 7-6 in the third round at Wimbledon.
Raducanu won’t be fazed by the prospect of facing big names. She has revealed that she does not feel the pressure when coming up against the world’s best players.
“I’ve always dreamed of winning a grand slam. You say, ‘I want to win a grand slam’, but to have the belief I did, and actually executing, winning a grand slam, I can’t believe it,” Raducanu said after stunning the tennis world by lifting the US Open.
“I first started when I was a little girl but I think the biggest thing that you have visions of, for me it was just winning, the winning moment, and going to celebrate with your team in the box.
“That’s been playing in my head a couple of nights. I’ve fallen asleep to that.”
She continued: “I don’t feel absolutely any pressure.
“I’m still only 18 years old. I’m just having a free swing at anything that comes my way. That’s how I faced every match here in the States.
“It got me this trophy, so I don’t think I should change anything.”
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