Emma Raducanu was born in 2002 in Toronto, but her family moved to Bromley in England when she was 2 years old. She began playing tennis at the age of 5, and became a very highly rated junior player, although a strong focus on her academic studies prevented her from playing many senior international events prior to 2021.
After completing her A levels, she began the summer of 2021 lowly ranked and inexperienced at senior level, but her freshness and confidence took her to the 4th round of Wimbledon and an astonishing US Open triumph.
Emma Raducanu Playing Style
So how did an 18 year old who had barely played on the WTA Tour manage to make such a massive impact in the 2021 Grand slams?
Emma Raducanu may not have had masses of high-level matches prior to the grass court season, but she was extremely well conditioned and had been winning matches at British Tour level. She had a positive mindset and moved exceptionally well about the court.
The key to Emma’s success in 2021 was the way she was able to use her speed to set up counter-hitting opportunities and take charge of points. She also returned aggressively and earned a number of free points with her serve. None of her US Open opponents was able to take charge of their match with Emma for any length of time, enabling her to ultimately win the tournament without dropping a set.
Emma Raducanu Stroke Analysis
Emma’s forehand is recognised as her weaker wing, although at the 2021 US Open it was almost flawless. She has traditionally used a fairly extreme grip, close to full Western, but has worked hard to move closer to semi-Western. This enables her to flatten the shot out more and be more aggressive.
During her run to the US Open title, Emma’s forehand was working superbly. She could move opponents around the court with it, and hit down the line at will. Following that time, her tennis has been interrupted by injuries and she has lost some of the confidence in her forehand that she was exhibiting in 2021.
Over the course of 2022, her forehand has been more error prone than it was in 2021, and she has become more passive on that side. The confident strikes down the line which were common in 2021 have become much rarer, and the shot has not worked well wide in the deuce court. This has allowed opponents to dictate points far more than they could before, contributing to Emma suffering a higher percentage of defeats.
Emma’s double-handed backhand is a smooth, natural shot with few technical flaws. She can vary the pace and angle and makes only a modest number of errors. When her forehand is functioning well, her backhand is an extremely solid complement to it, enabling her to control the majority of rallies against many players.
If Emma’s forehand is not working well, this tends to put pressure on her backhand, which is not sufficiently powerful to dominate most rallies. This can result in an increase in the number of errors coming from the backhand side.
Emma also possesses a competent backhand slice, although this is not yet strong enough to qualify as any more than a variation at this stage. Nonetheless, she is able to throw in the occasional effective drop-shot.
The serve is another critical area for Emma Raducanu. The 2021 US Open saw her produce a career-best serving performance. The technique looked sound, and she was often able to pull out a big serve on crucial points.
The quality of her serving at the 2021 US Open was partly a result of the work she had been putting in to improve it. She had previously been prone to holding the racquet in the ‘waiter’s tray’ position during the preparation phase, and she had made a big effort effort to eliminate this, with excellent results. Unfortunately this near-perfection proved temporary, as it was not thoroughly ingrained, and during 2022 her serving has been inconsistent.
Emma’s natural serve is a moderate slice, although she can change the angle and spin. She tosses the ball very high, which is not ideal for producing a smooth rhythm and a consistent delivery.
As at September 2022, Emma’s serve can nevertheless look very nice. Her action is smooth, and she hits some great serves. Unfortunately, her first serve percentage can dip, double-faults can creep in, and she sometimes misses too many third balls in the rallies.
Return Of Serve
The return of serve can also be a great strength for Emma. She reads the serve well and moves superbly, earning opportunities to attack off both wings. At the US Open in 2021 she was able to attack what had previously been the very effective serving of Leylah Fernandez, and this was a key factor in her winning the final.
By the same token, if Emma’s forehand is not functioning well, her returning becomes more passive and she leaves opportunities for her opponents to attack the third ball of the rally.
Emma is not an out and out net player, but her volleying technique is reasonably sound.
At the 2021 US Open, she finished off several points with confident drive volleys, although these have been less prevalent in 2022. Nonetheless, this is an area of her game which could eventually develop into a real strength.
What Is Emma Raducanu Famous For?
Emma’s most famous achievement is of course coming through qualifying to win the 2021 US Open. She is the only person ever to have done this, and achieved this milestone at the tender age of 18. As a result, she was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was awarded the MBE.
Emma is also well known for the numerous sponsorship and endorsement deals which came her way following her US Open triumph. Some have suggested that these, and the associated commitments, have contributed to her modest form in 2022. In truth, she was never going to be able to maintain the level of success she enjoyed in 2021, and she has simply had to adjust to life in the public eye and on the WTA Tour.
Emma Raducanu burst on the scene in a way that no other player has ever managed. Without any real experience on the WTA Tour she was suddenly at the top of the game. 2022 was spent adjusting to her new life, but her tennis remains very promising.
- Her forehand can be very effective, but needs to become more consistent to give her the confidence to attack with it.
- Her double-handed backhand is very solid and smooth.
- Her serve is a work in progress, but it can be very strong.
- Her return of serve can be a big weapon as long as she is able to attack with the forehand.
- Her volleys are not a big feature of her game but show definite potential.
There is certainly no reason why Emma should not be able to reproduce her early successes in the future.
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