Raducanu's rise arguably 'greatest breakthrough performance of all time', declares Thiem

By Sports Desk September 13, 2021

Dominic Thiem believes Emma Raducanu's sensational US Open triumph might be the "greatest breakthrough performance of all time".

Raducanu, 18, overcame fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to cement her place in history.

Her triumph meant she became the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

She did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

Raducanu – whose first grand slam appearance only came at Wimbledon in June – was ranked 150th in the world before the US Open, but her stunning win in New York has seen her break into the top 30.

Thiem, who missed the men's tournament with a wrist injury, was in awe of Raducanu's stunning run at Flushing Meadows and says he can scarcely recall a more impressive breakthrough in the sport.  

"There were some other great achievements in the past but with Emma Raducanu, starting in the qualifiers and then playing such great tennis and making this incredible path, it's definitely, maybe, the greatest breakthrough performance of all time," he exclusively told Stats Perform.

 

"It's an incredible journey if you look at the stats. She didn't lose one set the whole tournament. She came from qualifying and she didn't even play one tie-break. That's simply amazing and something that was probably never witnessed before.

"And also the way she plays, her technique, the way she moves, somehow she brought it up to a new level for the whole game and it was great to see.

"But as well, her opponent, it was so fun to watch her. I was excited for it, watching every single point on TV. And it was great not only for women's tennis, but for all sports in general."

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    Emma Raducanu is through to the second round at Eastbourne after a commanding straight-sets victory over Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.

    Despite an early scare, Raducanu cruised through, winning 6-4 6-0 in just one hour 17 minutes.

    Raducanu and Stephens traded blows early on in the first set, with both getting double breaks to stay neck-and-neck before the Briton edged it in the final game by breaking the American's serve once more.

    She then brushed Stephens aside in just 25 minutes for the second without dropping a single game, to set up a meeting with Jessica Pegula in the next round.

    Data Debrief: Raducanu in control

    Raducanu finished off the match in style, winning the last nine games in a row, and broke Sloane's serve six times.

    The 21-year-old finished with 23 winners to just 13 unforced errors to tee up a marquee match-up in the second round.

  • Djokovic will only play Wimbledon if title in reach after surgery Djokovic will only play Wimbledon if title in reach after surgery

    Novak Djokovic will only play at Wimbledon if he feels he has a chance of winning the tournament, with a decision on his involvement to be made before Friday's draw.

    Djokovic tore the medial meniscus in his right knee at the French Open earlier this month, withdrawing ahead of a scheduled quarter-final against Casper Ruud.

    He underwent surgery on the injury less than three weeks ago but still travelled to SW19 on Monday and was seen out on the practice courts.

    However, the Serbian will only participate if he feels he has a realistic chance of an eighth Wimbledon crown, which would equal Roger Federer's all-time record. 

    "I didn't come here to play a few rounds," Djokovic told BBC Sport. "You can never know 100% what is going to happen at a tournament, but I'm going to make a decision based on the feeling that I have.

    "If I know I can play close to my maximum or at maximum, then I'll play. If not, then I'll give somebody else a chance to play."

    Asked if his maximum meant a title push, Djokovic replied: "That's why I'm here. 

    "I don't plan to retire or for this to be my last Wimbledon. The injury happened at an unfortunate moment but it's part of the sport."

    Having gone through a two-hour session with bandaging on his affected knee on Monday, Djokovic added his recovery is going well and said he will give himself as much time as possible to make a decision.

    "It's been going well. Rehab is going in the right direction every single day, a few per cent better and better. That's what's giving me hope and encouragement," he said.

    "I still have a week left, which is plenty of time. I'm going to give my best to have a clear understanding of where I am before the draw is made, and we'll take it from there.

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  • Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica: Wasteful Selecao frustrated in Copa America opener Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica: Wasteful Selecao frustrated in Copa America opener

    Brazil began their Copa America campaign with a frustrating goalless draw against Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium.

    The Selecao dominated large periods of the Group D clash. Marquinhos saw a goal ruled out following a VAR review, while Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork from distance.

    Yet despite enjoying just under three-quarters of the possession and registering 19 shots to their opponents' two, they could not find the breakthrough and failed to win their opening match in the competition for the first time since 2016.

    Dorival Junior's side subsequently lost early ground on Group D leaders Colombia, who beat Paraguay 2-1 earlier in the day.

    Brazil quickly asserted their authority on proceedings in California as they sought the game's opening goal.

    Rodrygo steered a shot wide following a jinking run into the penalty area, while Raphinha was denied by Patrick Sequeira after latching onto a diagonal ball over the top of the Costa Rica defence.

    The Selecao thought they had broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Marquinhos applied the finishing touch after Rodrygo glanced Raphinha's free-kick towards the far post, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review. 

    Rodrygo fired narrowly over in first-half stoppage time and, then on 63 minutes, Lucas Paqueta saw his ferocious 25-yard drive crash against Sequeira's left upright.

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    The latter's cross almost saw Costa Rica defender Haxzel Quiros head into his own net with his blushes spared by Sequeira, who then beat away Guilherme Arana's fierce volley.

    Savinho was involved again in stoppage time as he teed up one final opportunity for Bruno Guimaraes, who bent his first-time shot narrowly wide to compound a frustrating start to the tournament for the nine-time winners.

    Selecao stutter on return to States

    It is fair to say Brazil do not boost particularly fond recent memories of playing in the United States in recent years.

    After all, the Selecao crashed out in the group stages when the Copa America was last held in this nation eight years ago.

    Neymar, who was part of that side, watched on from the stands having been ruled out of this tournament through injury.

    Try as they may, his team-mates just could not break down their opponents and turn their dominance into the elusive goal, with just three of their 19 attempts on target.

    Fresh from playing a starring role in Real Madrid’s LaLiga and Champions League double, Vinicius Junior was unable to inspire his nation – his tallies of 45 touches and 23 passes were the lowest recorded by any of Brazil’s outfield starters.

    On a brighter note, Marquinhos made his 16th Copa America appearance – with only Dani Alves (19) and Thiago Silva (18) playing more times for the Selecao in the competition since 2000 – though a VAR review prevented him from marking the occasion with a goal.

    Another clean sheet for repellent Costa Rica

    Costa Rica were heavy underdogs on their return to the Copa America for the first time in eight years.

    Not since 2004 have Los Ticos progressed from the group stages of this competition, but they certainly know what it takes to claim a scalp on the big stage.

    Exactly 10 years ago, they beat Uruguay and Italy to top Group D, which also featured England, on the way to reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

    Fast forward a decade and Joel Campbell, who was part of that side, came off the bench for his 140th cap as his nation halted a run of nine successive defeats by Brazil. 

    More impressively, Costa Rica have kept clean sheets in each of their last four competitive games.

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