Andy Murray has smart explanation for how pandemic helped Emma Raducanu win US Open

Emma Raducanu: British teen wins US Open

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Andy Murray believes a long period without playing tournaments helped Emma Raducanu to victory at the US Open. The 18-year-old made history as the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam last month and has since shot up the rankings from world No.150 to No.21. Raducanu had barely played any tournaments in the 18 months prior to this year’s grass-court season, where she had her breakthrough at Wimbledon, and was instead completing her A Levels while fellow teenage pros were regulars on the junior tour.

Raducanu went from world No.338 to No.21 in a matter of months, playing her first-ever WTA main draw event back in June when she was awarded a wild card into Nottingham, losing in the first round.

A last-minute wild card into Wimbledon later that month saw her put herself on the radar, as the Bromley local stormed to the second week before retiring during her fourth-round match as she struggled with breathing difficulties.

The 18-year-old then spent several weeks in America for the hard-court season, making her first WTA 125k final at the Chicago Challenger before arriving at Flushing Meadows for US Open qualifying at a then-career high of No.150 in the world.

Raducanu failed to drop a set across three qualifying rounds and seven main-draw matches en route to her first career title – the US Open.

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Her unprecedented run has left many wondering how she was able to achieve the seemingly impossible, and fellow British Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has now given his reasoning for why he believes Raducanu has superseded her fellow teenagers on tour and skyrocketed to the top of the game.

“I think, often what separates like the elite athletes from maybe that level just below is that ability to learn quickly and to process information and not everyone can do that but I think often the top players and the really elite athletes are able to do that,” the former world No 1 said.

“I obviously have not spent loads of time on a tennis court with her so I don’t know but it wouldn’t surprise me either if she picked things up extremely quickly.”

Raducanu had played little tennis for around 18 months before the grass-court season, with the pandemic suspending the tour for several months in 2020, while Raducanu also completed her A Levels earlier this year.

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Murray believed that a prolonged period away from competition had benefitted the British teenager and given her the upper hand over players who spent months competing in the juniors.

He added: “Obviously the last 18 months sort of pre-Wimbledon and the grass court season, she didn’t really compete a whole lot which maybe in some ways allowed her to make some technical changes to her game and develop that side of things when usually around that age, you know, 17, 18 year olds are competing a lot.

“They’re on the junior tour competing and then starting to sort of drip-feed in some senior tournaments as well and maybe that period there gave her an opportunity to fix some maybe slight technical issues in her game and she does seem to have improved her serve and her forehand.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion, who competed alongside Raducanu at last year’s Battle of the Brits tournament held during the pandemic, said he hadn’t spent enough time on court with the 18-year-old but expected she also had the ability to pick things up and develop her game quickly.

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“So yeah, I mean it wouldn’t surprise me if she was a very quick learner,” he admitted. “She’s obviously a very smart, smart woman as well.

“I don’t know what else to say on that because I haven’t spent loads of time on the court with her, just it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case.”
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