nly one player has beaten both the US Open women’s finalists, Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, this summer.
World No144 Harriet Dart knocked out her fellow countrywoman at the Nottingham Open back in June before defeating Fernandez in the opening round of her home event, the Canadian Open, just days before the US Open.
Iain Bates, the head of women’s tennis at the LTA, uses the statistic to highlight just one potential outcome from the Raducanu effect.
“I’m not saying Harriet should have been in the US Open final,” he said, “but it shows she’s capable of competing at the highest level. I hope players realise how good they can be and, with hard work, they can make progress.”
Bates travelled to the US three weeks ago to oversee six British women in qualifying, Raducanu and Dart included. That both of them, along with Katie Boulter, made it into the main draw was seen as a success, which has largely and unsurprisingly been forgotten in the results that have followed.
“I remember thinking three British women qualified for the main draw – this is brilliant, what could possibly be better?” he said. But instead, Bates still found himself in New York among those cheering from Raducanu’s box until the final moment of the women’s singles.
Having landed back in the UK at the start of the week, his job is now to transfer those Brits ranked from 100 to 230 in the world to break into the world’s top 100, what he sees as the toughest step-up to make in the professional ranks.
“Obviously, Emma has been the major mover from the pack and not everyone is going to win a Grand Slam but I hope those other players in that bracket believe they can make the break into that top 100,” he said. “Obviously, Emma’s done in in just one tournament but, now she’s done it, I hope someone capitalises.”
The other hope more widely is to get more girls picking up a racket, the simple maths showing that, at every age level, the more players there are, the more competition and then higher quality there is.
While understandably what now follows will be spoken off as the Raducanu effect, Bates was quick also to focus on the role of the player she replaced as British No1 in Johanna Konta.
“It’s important we don’t forget the impact that Jo had on women’s tennis,” he said. “She’s made it to three Grand Slam semi-finals and the top five in the world – that’s not a level we’ve seen by a female player for a number of years.”
As for Raducanu, he is confident she can deal with the increased attention and expectation around her but that she needs time to consolidate what has been achieved.
As for the matter of what’s next, that remains to be seen. He said: “First off, she needs to get herself home to establish how she feels. Indian Wells is an obvious choice or she might spend time at home to practice for the European swing at the end of the year.
“I’d also relate it to the big off-season that Andy Murray had at a similar age. That was recognition of the work that still needed to be done. It could be she even opts for something like that.”