Tim Henman is at the side of the court for Amazon Prime and is asked about his memories of his debut grand slam quarter-final: “There’s nervous excitement that goes with it … you’ve got to embrace those nerves, think about your footwork early on … you’ve got to control the controllables … When we reflect on how well she’s playing and how well she is striking the ball … I’m quietly confident on the side of the court here.”
Two minutes until lift-off.
The players are out on the court. Raducanu comes out first and looks relaxed as she smiles and waves to the fans. There aren’t many people in Arthur Ashe Stadium right now but it will surely fill up.
As Tumaini pointed out in his preview, and as mentioned here by the US Open official Twitter, Raducanu has dropped just 15 games in four rounds. It’s remarkable form.
Andy Murray is asked what his advice for Raducanu would be: “A lot of people would say go out there and enjoy it … I think it’s quite difficult to do that … there is no question that Emma will feel pressure, she will feel nervous … it’s important that her team speak to her about that, and how she’s going to deal with that … losing a set, for instance, which she hasn’t done so far [at the tournament]. Those are the things I’d want to prepare my player for. The most important thing is to come off the court knowing you’ve given everything you’ve got … the one thing you can control is your effort levels and your mentality … her team will be hoping she goes and gives everything, and plays a top match.”
Martina Navratilova, on duty at Flushing Meadows, assesses Belinda Bencic’s form: “Bencic has looked great … her tennis has been fantastic … particularly in the last match against Iga Swiatek. She’s only lost her serve three times [at the tournament]. It’s her match to win or lose today … she’s the overwhelming favourite today, and sometimes that can be a bad thing.”
Andy Murray speaks to Amazon Prime about Raducanu’s progress to the last eight, and her chances today: “I think what she’s done so far in the tournament has been incredible … the ease with which she’s won her matches has been surprising for everyone … it’s an opportunity for her today, Bencic is playing extremely well just now and will have a lot of confidence off the back of the Olympics … her results this year up to the Olympics have not been that impressive … it’s a tough match because Bencic has confidence from the Olympics but she’s certainly beatable.”
“She [Raducanu] is very offensive on the return, she likes to step into the court … she’s often right up inside the baseline [on second serves] … Bencic’s serve is normally the weaker part of her game, especially on second serve … it’s finding that balance of being offensive … and you don’t need to hit it at 100mph all the time if you’re already inside the court.
“Mentally, Bencic and be a bit up and down in games, and get down on herself … there are a number of things but the psychological side is important.”
Having just turned 19, Leylah Fernandez would be the senior player in a match-up with Raducanu. The remarkably talented and charismatic Canadian showed all her determination and skill to defeat Elina Svitolina (5) yesterday and progress into the last four:
“Personally I am surprised that I’m here. I knew I was doing a lot of great work that would pay off someday, but you never know when. I’m super-appreciative of the moment.”
Tumaini Carayol reflects on Raducanu’s run to the last eight, and her prospects against Bencic today:
While it may feel like it right now, Raducanu v Bencic is not the only show in town at the US Open today: next on court will be the men’s singles fourth seed, Alexander Zverev, who meets Lloyd Harris of South Africa, the world No 46.
After that, at midnight UK time, Karolina Pliskova (4) takes on Maria Sakkari (17) in the second women’s singles quarter-final of the day, and then it’s the small matter of Novak Djokovic (1) against Matteo Berrettini (6), who meet again after the Serb triumphed at the Wimbledon final in July. That match is scheduled for 1.15am UK time.
Even Emma Raducanu admits she is surprised to find herself in the quarter-finals of the US Open. She is not the only one: astonishingly, this is only the fourth tour-level event she has participated in. But things are about to get real, and today at Flushing Meadows Raducanu will face a top-30 opponent for the first time: Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.
The 18-year-old Raducanu’s celebrity status is secure – her dramatic run to the last 16 at Wimbledon saw to that – but that celebrity has been borne out of prodigious talent, hard work and self-belief. Should Raducanu take another step towards grand slam glory and reach the last four of the US Open today, the hype machine is sure to be dialled up another notch.
Why shouldn’t Raducanu be in the semi-finals in a few hours’ time? If there one thing that she and Leylah Fernandez have shown us over the past several days, it’s that a liberal dash of self-belief, a willingness to attack and to take on aggressive shots can bring spectacular results: no matter the age or experience of the players on either side of the net. This promises to be a compelling encounter, no matter the result. Pre-match reading and more coming right up.