The Emma Raducanu Show premieres in Indian Wells this Friday, and had this tournament happened in its traditional spot on the calendar in March, the show never would’ve made it to air.
One of the benefits of the October dates for the BNP Paribas Open is the tournament can ride the wave of excitement generated by the U.S. Open that finished three weeks earlier. And the No. 1 excitement-generator was definitely Raducanu, the 19-year-old Brit who burst on the scene with a remarkable run to the title.
Her exploits in New York earned her invitations to appear on TV shows and attend the Met Gala (which she attended) but in general, Raducanu didn’t say yes to most of the invites, preparing to keep her focus on tennis.
She said her celebration on the night of her magical U.S. Open victory was not very lavish, but she remembers it fondly.
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“The highlight (of the last three weeks) still is and always will be the night after I won,” Raducanu said during a virtual news conference in the leadup to Indian Wells. “After the match, we went back to the hotel and me and the team had a nice meal and were chatting and reflecting. For me that’s always going to be the highlight. Even though all the invitations were very cool, I think that’s what’s going to stick in my mind.”
Another invitation that came out of her U.S. Open victory? A trip to Indian Wells to play in the BNP Paribas Open as a wild card entry. The first-timer has enjoyed her first few days in the desert.
“I’m very excited. This is my first time playing at Indian Wells, and I can’t wait to get started,” Raducanu said. “I just love the facilities and everyone has been so nice to be around. Really looking forward to playing.”
Raducanu, who earned the No. 17 seed this week, will play her first match Friday against either Maria Camila Osorio Serrano or Aliaksandra Sasnovich. A possible date with former World No. 1 Simona Halep could await in the third round.
Her U.S. Open title was remarkable on many levels. In the tournament as a qualifier, she had to win 10 matches. And she did so without losing a set. Twenty straight sets won at the U.S. Open — it’s astounding.
She is the talk of the tennis world, and that is meant in the literal sense. Other players have been asked about Raducanu tirelessly since her win, trying to decipher how she rose to such dizzying heights so quickly.
Her countryman Andy Murray credited her success to her general intelligence on and off the court.
“Often what separates the elite athletes from maybe that level just below is that ability to learn quickly and process information quickly. Not everyone can do that,” Murray said Wednesday. “I’ve not spent loads of time on a tennis court with her. But often elite athletes have that qualify and I wouldn’t be surprised if she has that. She’s obviously a very smart player and quick learner.”
Raducanu is entering this week at the BNP Paribas Open without an official coach. She separated from Andrew Richardson who was with her during her remarkable U.S. Open run. She is looking for someone with more experience at the highest levels of tennis. This week she’s working with Jeremy Bates on her side, but she’s still in the market for an official coach, and according to her, there’s no urgency to find a replacement.
“I’m not going to rush it. I want to make sure I make the right decision,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of experience banked and you’re out there on your own.”
She’s focusing strictly on her tennis right now, and she expects her conditioning to be a major factor at Indian Wells. She’s done her homework.
“The air is very dry there, so it’s going to be tough physically and also the courts are slower and high-bouncing so there’s going to be long rallies,” she said. “It’s going to be physical and it’s just a matter of trying to get in as best shape as possible.”
But really, Raducanu is just basking in the afterglow of her U.S. Open title. At 19, there is a ton of tennis still ahead of her, and you can tell by the almost constant smile on her face, she’s enjoying this ride right now.
“I’ve gotten some nice messages of support from other pro tennis players, and though, I’ve not managed to get a chance to follow up, it was nice of them to reach out,” she said, adding that her mindset right now is simple. “Just going to keep having fun with it, really.”
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.