Emma Raducanu has the world at her feet after US Open triumph but tough choices lie ahead

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W

hen Emma Raducanu breathlessly bowed out of Wimbledon on medical advice, some questioned whether she had the mettle for the biggest stage.

The only real questions now after she became the first qualifier in history to win a Grand Slam are what next for the 18-year-old or, for that matter, how does she follow up her fairytale of New York, a three-week stint that even now seems so unbelievably improbable?

As things stand, she has the world at her feet: the pick of tournaments, sponsors and chat-show appearances. The possibilities currently seem endless and, refreshingly, as she spoke long after her win, she genuinely had no idea what lies ahead for her in the near future.

Already her rise has been so meteoric — as she put it so eloquently she had gone from the exam hall to the biggest court in the world in the space of three heady months.

Dissecting her play is perhaps the easy part. She is next scheduled to appear in Chicago and, while the new world No23 as of this morning, she is not seeded into the main draw of any WTA Tour events because the cut-off date for them is taken prior to the US Open.

In reality, though, such is her star status, every tournament organiser with an event left in 2021 will be firing off wildcard invites to her agent today.

Indian Wells at the start of October looks a near certainty as one of the most sought-after events outside the Grand Slams. And she has a long shot at making the end-of-season WTA Tour finals although, with Wimbledon and the US Open already under her belt, she would be well advised not to go chasing points, and most likely will be.

The question of whether she can back it up on the biggest stage is a moot point. In the past six years, only Naomi Osaka has won back-to-back Grand Slam titles, although Raducanu will be among the favourites at next year’s Australian Open.

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Wimbledon is already at the forefront of her mind, her coming-out tournament and one where she will be the undoubted star attraction immaterial of what happens in the intervening months. “Wimbledon is my favourite tournament, with everything that it stands for,” she said. “The support I received there was my first real ‘wow’ moment.”

As for how high she can go in the rankings, one thinks to the very top. Her Fed Cup captain, Anne Keothavong, was criticised by some after Wimbledon when she said the player was destined for the world’s top 10. That looks likely to now happen a lot faster than even the greatest optimist might have envisaged.

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