Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year
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Emma Raducanu has been able to start her season on a positive note despite suffering a heavy loss in her first match. The Bromley teenager has managed to climb to a new career-high ahead of the Australian Open – the first Grand Slam tournament since Raducanu became the first qualifier in history to win a Major title at the US Open.
Raducanu climbed from world No 338 into the top 25 in less than four months last year, after becoming the US Open champion.
She made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon while ranked down at No 338, having her qualifying wildcard upgraded to the main draw last minute, and stormed into the second week without dropping a set.
Just weeks later, the then-18-year-old arrived in New York for the US Open qualifying event at a new career high at the time of world No 15.
She then went on an astonishing run, winning ten matches in a row without dropping a set through qualifying and the main draw, to end her time at the US Open as the champion.
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The victory made Raducanu the first qualifier in tennis history to win a Major, and the first woman to win the title on just her second appearance at Grand Slam level.
It skyrocketed her into the world’s top 25, and after reaching the Transylvania Open at the end of the season she cracked the top 20.
The 19-year-old has now reached a new career-high in the latest ranking published on Monday.
She now sits at world No 18, which has also earned her the 17th seeding spot at the upcoming Australian Open.
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The new ranking will offer Raducanu a boost after she had her pre-season derailed by a positive Covid test, and started the year with an emphatic loss.
The Bromley local was set to compete in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi last month but tested positive ahead of the event and had to pull out.
She was also expected to start her season at the WTA 250 as part of the Melbourne Summer Set last week but pulled out to give herself an extra week of practice after losing preparation time thanks to her Covid isolation period.
Raducanu returned to the court on Tuesday for her first match of the season in Sydney.
The new world No 18 was originally set to face 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek in the first round but instead took on ninth seed and recent Adelaide finalist Elena Rybakina after the Pole withdrew injured.
She spent less than an hour on court and won just one game as the 22-year-old swiftly overpowered her to seal a 6-0 6-1 victory.
Raducanu will now prepare for the upcoming Australian Open – the first Major tournament since she won the US Open, where she will now be the woman to beat.
The teenage Grand Slam champion will face a very tough test in her opening-round match, taking on a fellow US Open winner from 2017 and former world No 3 Sloane Stephens.
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