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Back under the major spotlight, Emma Raducanu says "there's actually no pressure on me"
Making her Australian Open debut, the No. 17 seed meets Sloane Stephens Tuesday evening in a blockbuster battle of past US Open champions.
Published Jan 17, 2022
TC Live talks Raducanu ahead of AO
Emma Raducanu is set to play her first Australian Open, but she's doing it as a reigning Grand Slam champion.
It's an unusual position, but that's nothing new for Raducanu, who has turned into one of the sport's big names since she became the first qualifier to win a major at last year's US Open.
But she then went 2-3 the rest of the season, and also comes into Melbourne lacking competitive play. The 19-year-old fell 6-0, 6-1 to Elena Rybakina in Sydney, her first event of 2022 and first since testing positive for coronavirus a few weeks ago.
"I had to jump a few hurdles to play here," she noted, speaking to press in Melbourne before the Australian Open.
Her one-sided defeat in Sydney was a reflection of that, she says.
"The first week I wasn't able to practice so much," Raducanu said. "I'm actually feeling like there's progress. All I want to see is that I'm getting slightly better and I have a better feeling. I think that gradually I'm getting there."
While her start to the season has not been ideal, it has allowed her to come into the tournament somewhat under the radar. That hasn't happened often since her win at Flushing Meadows.
"I feel like there's actually no pressure on me. I feel like I'm just happy to be here and have a swing. I'm just want to have fun on the court," said Raducanu.
But the competitive, hard-working teenager doesn't always find that easy to achieve.
"Whether that's practice, whether that's off the court, I want to be the best I can all the time. I think I need to just relax," she said.
Ranked a career-high No. 18, she's the 17th seed at the Australian Open and faces 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in a blockbuster opener.