Teenage exuberance has stolen the show at the US Open so far and Emma Raducanu continued to ride the wave of her extraordinary summer with a crushing win over Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The Kent teenager dropped just a single game in a stunning 6-0 6-1 victory against a player ranked 41 and also having a breakthrough season to join fellow 18-year-olds Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz in the fourth round.
Raducanu now has a real shot of making the last eight of the tournament as she takes on American Shelby Rogers, who dumped out world number one Ash Barty with a superb comeback.
Rogers is vastly experienced but inconsistent, and if Raducanu produces anything like the tennis she showed against Sorribes Tormo the Briton has no reason to fear anyone.
She revealed Fernandez and Alcaraz’s wins had provided inspiration, saying: “I think that to have so many young players coming through is just really great for the game, because it just shows how strong this next generation is.
“I think we all inspire each other to play better. For me today, I wanted to join them in the second week as well, so that was an extra bit of motivation. They are very, very nice people. I’m very happy for them, and also very happy for myself that I can also go into the second week.”
Raducanu has now matched her breakthrough run at Wimbledon but the strides she has made in just the last two months were evident.
The teenager has not dropped a set across six matches in qualifying and the main draw and was superior in every area to Sorribes Tormo, out-hitting and out-thinking one of the most durable players on tour.
Ranked outside the top 350 in June and having never faced a top-100 player, Raducanu is now set to break that milestone herself.
Her Wimbledon retirement with breathing problems was a lesson in the physical demands of top-level tennis but that aside Raducanu has taken everything remarkably in her stride.
She did not play a competitive match between February 2020 and June this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and a focus on her A Levels, and she said: “I think the last year and a half really I haven’t competed much, so nothing has entirely prepared me for playing in front of many, many people.
“But I think that by not playing I just realised the hunger and determination to be out there. I’m extremely fresh. This whole experience is just so new to me. I think it’s the enjoyment factor that I’m getting.
“I think I’m playing better tennis here than at Wimbledon. Of course being on the hard courts, they’re less forgiving than grass.
“I think with the amount of matches I have played and the experience that I have accumulated in the last four, five weeks, my game is just getting better with each match. I’m excited to keep going here for as long as possible.”
Raducanu looked set for a rare double bagel before a few late nerves allowed Sorribes Tormo to get on the scoreboard, but the consistent quality of the teenager’s display left seasoned observers open-mouthed.
Annabel Croft, herself a teenage star, sees no reason why Raducanu cannot continue the trend of breakthrough slam champions in the women’s game.
Speaking on Amazon Prime Video, Croft said: “When we’re talking about women’s tennis and you see someone like (Iga) Swiatek win the French Open a couple of years ago, why would she not feel that she could go on and win a slam?
“We saw (Bianca) Andreescu break through as a world number 150, the same ranking that she’s at right now, who then went on to win Indian Wells and then came forward and won the US Open.
“I think her tennis is grand slam-winning material. Whether it’s this year, next year, but it’s that good.”