Emma Raducanu vs Maria Sakkari - Brit can battle to US Open final

Can Brit teenage sensation Emma Raducanu continue her dream run at the US Open?

Two months ago the future for British tennis looked bleak. Andy Murray was still struggling along with his metal hip and not looking like he was making all that much progress. Johanna Konta was also struggling, and for all Dan Evans and Cam Norrie are good players, they are both already likely at their ceiling.

Now, though, Britain suddenly has a tennis star to believe in again in 18-year-old Emma Raducanu. She made her mark at Wimbledon and has now blazed her way into the semi-finals of the US Open.

She will come up against Greek warrior Maria Sakkari next, and it's definitely one to keep your eye on.

Raducanu vs Sakkari head-to-head

Unsurprisingly, this will be the first time these two players have faced each other. Raducanu is at that stage of her career where she is new to just about everyone.

There is a strong argument to be made for that actually being one of the things helping her the most right now, though. No one has really seen her before, so opponents and their coaches are yet to deconstruct her game and figure out her weaknesses.

That won't last forever, but it can count for a lot in the now. A comparable example would be Iga Swiatek, who won the 2020 French Open as a 19-year-old in similar circumstances, but has since lost her way a little as her game becomes more well known on the WTA Tour.

Emma Raducanu in focus

Age: 18

World ranking: 150

Nationality: British

Height: 5'7"

Plays: Right-handed

Backhand: Two-handed

Career W/L: 64/22

US Open so far:

R1: Stefani Voegele 6-2, 6-2

R2: Shuai Zhang 6-2, 6-4

R3: Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 6-1

R4: Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1

QF: Belinda Benic 6-3, 6-4

It's hard to really emphasise with words just how meteoric Raducanu's rise has been this summer - so let's try to do it with numbers instead.

At the start of Wimbledon, Raducanu was Britain's No. 10 and the world number 338. Two months later, she is already guaranteed to be the British No. 1 on Monday and will be world No. 51 at the very worst.

It hasn't looked like any kind of a fluke either. Raducanu has done it by playing some seriously good tennis.

She is yet to lose a set in New York in five matches. In her last three matches alone, including one against the Olympic champion, Raducanu has only lost 11 games - not enough to lose a single match.

The question mark will be whether she can handle the pressure of a Grand Slam semi-final against another quality player in Sakkari, but she has already reveled on Court Arthur Ashe twice so there's little to suggest the big stage is getting to her.

Maria Sakkari in focus

Age: 26

World ranking: 18

Nationality: Greek

Height: 5'8"

Plays: Right-handed

Backhand: Two-handed

Career W/L: 353/234

US Open so far:

R1: Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-3

R2: Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-2

R3: Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3

R4: Bianca Andreescu 6-7, 7-6, 6-3

QF: Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4

Casual tennis fans may not be all that familiar with Sakkari, but that is probably down to the strength in depth in the women's game right now more than anything.

Since Serena Williams passed her peak, no one player has dominated the WTA Tour, making it tough to climb the rankings as the Majors - and the rankings points from them - are shared out around so many players.

That said, Sakkari has had a pretty consistent season. This will be her second Grand Slam semi-final, with the other coming at Roland Garros. Should she beat Raducanu, she will break into the top ten for the first time.

Sakkari's run in New York has been very impressive too. She has beaten three players ranked higher than her, including 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

The mystery will be whether that Roland Garros semi-final will help or hinder her. She had a match-point and couldn't take it. Has that motivated her or scarred her? Time will tell.

Emma Raducanu to win the first set

Some matches just have the feel about them that the first set will be very important. Whoever gets it will be able to create pressure, and in such a big match that might be the difference-maker.

It is important to remember that for one of these two women, a first ever Grand Slam final awaits, so the stakes are significant.

Sakkari comes into it with a little more baggage though having lost out at this stage of a Major before, and it that's playing on her mind early then Raducano is easily good enough to capitalise.

Emma Raducanu to win 2-1

Raducano has not dropped a set at all yet in the competition, but that record will be severely tested by Sakkari.

The Greek is pretty much made of granite, so she is unlikely to tire physically and the scrap-factor alone should see her take at least a set.

Ultimately, Raducanu should be relatively comfortable in the rally against Sakkari, so if she can keep herself together mentally she has a great chance of getting herself over the line.

Maria Sakkari to win 2-0

The other possibility in this, and the bookies think it's more likely, is it is just one step too far for Raducanu and she struggles to get herself into the match at all.

Sakkari has been one of the most consistent players on the WTA Tour this season and her confidence is sky high right now.

The danger is that if she defends well, which she is very capable of doing, Raducanu's inexperience may start to show and the unforced errors creep in.

Latest news