Emma Radukano, an 18-year-old British qualifier, is dreaming of the US Open as much as anything on the street on Broadway.
Radukano, ranked 150th, became the first qualifier to reach the US Open women’s semifinals on Wednesday, defeating Tokyo Olympic champion Swiss 11th seed Belinda Bensk 6-3, 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
She is only the fourth Grand Slam qualifier to reach the semi-finals, but Radukano still opposes comparisons with stars such as Naomi Osaka.
“I think comparing you and your results to someone is probably like stealing happiness,” Radukano said.
“I haven’t competed for 18 months, but I’m here and it just shows that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.”
Radukano could be the first qualifier to reach the Grand Slam final, and a trophy is just one step away, though she insists never look forward.
“We say I’m hungry to win every match,” Radukano said. “So I don’t want to go beyond myself at all, because I like to take it one day at a time.
“If I take care of what I can control, it’s going to give me the best chance. So far, I think it’s working very well for me not to go beyond myself, Just focus on one point at a time. At this point, and I won’t change anything. “
This includes her red dress in court.
“It’s not the same set, to be clear,” Radukano said. “I really like red.”
Not bad for a few weeks for a woman who long ago planned to pack her bags to go out.
“I didn’t expect to come here at all. I think my flights were booked at the end of qualifying, so that’s a good problem,” Radukano said.
“I’m just focusing on one day at a time, taking care of every day. When you’re playing tournaments, you get into this kind of auto-pilot mode of your routine. Holidays are fine. Are done. “
She is aiming to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and the first British woman to win the US Open since Wade in 1968.
British tennis legends Wade, Andy Murray and Tim Heinmann have boosted his confidence.
“Everyone is such a great role model and personality for me to follow,” he said. “I think their presence and everything they’ve achieved is an inspiration to me.”
Radukano started his Grand Slam with a run in the fourth round at Wimbledon in July, followed by WTA events in San Jose and Chicago.
“I worked up to that level slowly but, yes, all the matches I’ve played have really helped my confidence,” Radukano said.
He is most happy to improve the movement of his court in the open.
“Physically I would say I’m not 100 percent developed yet, but my speed and ability to reach some balls has definitely amazed me,” Radukano said.
“I’m starting to slip, which I didn’t know I could actually do, and I’m doing it by accident now. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do it, but now I can do it.” I am. “
She credits her parents for the mental toughness that has been her trademark in clutch conditions.
“Peace and mental strength definitely come from my upbringing,” Radukano said.
“I’m pretty relaxed. I have confidence in myself and it’s all mental at the end of the day.”