Emma Raducanu continued the burgeoning youth movement at the US Open with aplomb on Monday, as the 18-year-old Brit moved into the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 win over Shelby Rogers of the United States.
With her commanding 65-minute victory over last year’s US Open quarterfinalist Rogers, Raducanu became just the third qualifier to reach the US Open women’s singles quarterfinals in the Open Era (since 1968). The previous two were Barbara Gerken in 1981 and Kaia Kanepi in 2017.
In only her second main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam event (following her breakthrough run to the round of 16 at this year's Wimbledon), Raducanu extends the stellar performances by teenagers at this year’s US Open, joining Canada's Leylah Fernandez, who turned 19 today, in the elite eight.
This is the first time since 2009 that multiple teenagers reached the women’s singles quarterfinals at the US Open. 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain has also reached the men’s singles quarterfinals this year.
Stat corner: 150th-ranked Raducanu’s rise has come at the expense of numerous experienced, highly-ranked players: with her victory over World No.43 Rogers, she has earned her third straight win over a Top 50 player this week. She is now 5-0 against Top 50 opposition in her career.
Raducanu’s victories this week have also been straightforward: she has not dropped a set in any of her three victories in qualifying and her four main-draw wins. The British teen has dropped a mere 15 games in her four main-draw matches.
Against Rogers, Raducanu played her powerful game with precision, out-winnering hard-hitting Rogers by 18 to 14, while also keeping her unforced error count low, with just 14 miscues. Rogers, on the other hand, was undone by 29 unforced errors.
Raducanu was also rampant on return, claiming 61 percent of points off of the Rogers service. That allowed her to convert five of her nine break points in the affair, booking a place in the first Tour-level quarterfinal of her career.
British Women to Reach the US Open Singles Quarterfinals in Open Era (since 1968)
Virginia Wade: 1968 (won the title), 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979
Ann Jones: 1968
Joyce Williams: 1971
Jo Durie: 1983
Johanna Konta: 2019
Emma Raducanu: 2021
Key moments: The first three games of the match were actually quite closely contested. Both players stared down break points in each of those games, but only Raducanu dropped serve, in the very first game of the match after a wide forehand.
But after triumphing in a long rally to break back for 2-2, Raducanu took control. The Brit jumped all over returns to earn another break and a 4-2 lead, and she collected a third straight break for good measure, wrapping up the set with a forehand down the line.
Raducanu charged through the second set, grabbing a 5-0 lead after winning an 11th game in a row. Serving for the match at 5-1, Raducanu faced some adversity, seeing three match points fall by the wayside and having to overcome three break points. But the teen was undeterred and converted her fourth match point after a netted return by Rogers.
Raducanu said: "It means a lot to have gone out there and to have performed," Raducanu told the press, after her win. "Shelby Rogers is an extremely experienced opponent, so I knew I would have to bring it today.
"To play on Ashe for the first time, it was a little bit of a nervy experience in the beginning. I was really proud of myself, how I managed to settle and regroup and find a level that at the end took me to the win."
"I think everyone is on their own trajectory," Raducanu added. "Personally I am surprised that I'm here. I didn't expect -- I knew I was doing a lot of great work that would pay off someday, but you never know when. I'm super appreciative of the moment."
Next up: Raducanu will level up in the quarterfinals as she faces her first seed of the week, which will also be her first match against a Top 20 player in her young career. No.11 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, the Olympic champion and a 2019 US Open semifinalist, will face Raducanu, after she beat No.7 seed Iga Swiatek earlier on Monday.
"[Bencic] has a lot of experience on the tour," said Raducanu. "She's in great form, having won Olympic gold. I'm also feeling good about my game, also confident with the amount of matches I've played. I feel like I'm building with each one.
"It will be an extremely difficult match. I know if I'm going to have a chance, I'm going to have to play some really good tennis."
Pliskova blasts past Pavlyuchenkova to reach quarterfinals
No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returned to the US Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2018 by moving past No.14 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 7-5, 6-4.
Former World No.1 Pliskova, a US Open runner-up in 2016, reached the elite eight in New York for the fourth time in her career with her 95-minute win over this year's Roland Garros runner-up Pavlyuchenkova.
The victory allowed Pliskova to reorient the momentum of their head-to-head rivalry back in her favor. Pliskova had won her first six meetings with Pavlyuchenkova, but the Russian had won the two most recent clashes, including earlier this year on the clay courts of Madrid.
This time, Pliskova eked out two tight sets by being the cleaner of the two power players. The Czech had an equal amount of winners and unforced errors, with 24 apiece, while Pavlyuchenkova's 19 winners were overwhelmed by 34 unforced errors.
"Super happy with the win, because the last two matches I lost against her," Pliskova said afterwards. "I think it was important to get the win today."
A very evenly matched first set came to a fiery conclusion when Pliskova zipped to triple set point on the Pavlyuchenkova serve at 6-5. A number of rallies followed, where the Russian prevailed on the first two before Pliskova won out on the third, taking the one-set lead.
The second set followed a similar pattern as the first, where early breaks were exchanged before a series of aggressively-played holds. But Pliskova had the last word again: at 5-4, a grueling rally, spurred on by surprisingly strong Pliskova defense, went the Czech's way, setting up match point, which she converted after a netted groundstroke by Pavlyuchenkova.
"Somehow I just found a way to maybe play a bit better than she did," said Pliskova. "Just put pressure on her serve, which I managed to get a couple breaks."