Simply stunning – Tim Henman leads praise of Emma Raducanu

Former British number one Tim Henman branded Emma Raducanu’s performance in her US Open semi-final win over Maria Sakkari as “simply stunning”.

Raducanu made history by becoming the first qualifier to reach a grand slam final with a dominant 6-1 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari.

She is also the first British woman to reach the final at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade won the title 53 years ago.

“It’s an absolutely staggering performance,” Henman told Amazon Prime. “If we just look at the way she came out and played, her quality of tennis from start to finish, she was so resilient. She never flinched.

“She never let up. It was relentless. And then you’ve got to throw in the scenario of being a qualifier, an 18-year-old, with all the legends who have ever played this game at grand slam level.

“She is the first person to qualify and reach the final. It’s simply stunning.

“She deserves all the credit in the world. On the biggest stage in our sport at every opportunity she plays on her terms. It’s incredible to watch.

“She’ll need to enjoy this tonight and then get ready for Saturday.”

Greg Rusedski, a US Open finalist in 1997, added: “I’m dumbfounded. That performance was worthy of a world number one, a US Open champion, a multiple grand slam champion.

“The composure, the belief, the handling of the big points. This is her first grand slam semi-final and it was like she was playing in the first round. It was astonishing.”

Martina Navratilova, the 18-time grand slam singles champion, knows a thing or two about making history.

She told Amazon Prime: “When you make history you do it at one level or two. Emma is doing it at so many levels.

“You can’t even think about the repercussions. We’ve been hyping her up but it’s happening. She’s backing it up.”

Virginia Wade, Britain’s last female grand slam winner at Wimbledon in 1977, described Raducanu as the “real thing”.

Wade told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I can’t tell you how exciting it is. We’ve been waiting such a long time for a British player on the women’s side to really come through.

“Every time you watch her you think she’s going to win every point out there. You don’t even get that nervous. It was remarkable.

“I’m sure she is the real thing, you don’t get someone head and shoulders above that often and I think she’s one of those. She’s stopping all her opponents in their tracks and she’s got an incredible future ahead of her.

“If it doesn’t happen on Saturday (win a grand slam) it’s going to happen sooner or later because she is really good.”

Wade told BBC’s Today programme: “I can’t be more impressed, really it was just a stunning victory. “She withstood everything and it seems Emma just seems to reduce her opponents to nothing, it’s incredible.

“She’s so consistent herself and she keeps coming up with answers and she serves so well and she just completely negates their games.

“She’s such a super girl, really she ticks every box… I think she’s going to be an icon for British tennis for I don’t know how long.”

Former British Fed Cup player Annabel Croft said Raducanu “may go on to dominate the world of tennis”.

“It was absolutely breath-taking and jaw dropping and one of the most brilliant performances I think I’ve seen in a very, very long time in tennis, if not one of the best that I’ve ever seen,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.

“She had to battle through three rounds of qualifiers. But it’s not just that, it’s the fact that she’s absolutely blitzed all of these much higher ranked and much more experienced opponents and they just don’t seem to stand a chance against her.

“You never want to put too much pressure on somebody, but… it does feel like we are looking at someone who may go on to dominate the world of tennis.

“She may well reach the top… I really do feel that she is very, very special.”

Sue Barker says she has been in awe watching Raducanu at the US Open.

Barker, the 1976 French Open champion, told BBC Radio 5Live: “I’m pinching myself with what I’ve been watching. We all thought at Wimbledon this is star of the future but it might take her a few years.

“But to be in a grand slam final in her fourth tournament is absolutely incredible. She’s not just winning matches, she’s breezing it.

“They’re not even getting close to her. She is nerveless and staying in the moment, and that’s incredibly hard to do. I’ve just been in awe of what I’ve been watching.”

Fellow sports stars congratulated Raducanu on social media after her historic victory.

Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill responded to the teen’s celebratory post on Instagram, writing: “You are incredible!!”

Fellow British tennis player Laura Robson enthusiastically described her British counterpart as “unreal” and called for “more”.

And another British team-mate Jodie Burrage wrote: “Woken up to absolute madness! ONE MORE TO GO.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his congratulations to Raducanu, writing:  “Well done @EmmaRaducanu for a brilliant win at the #USOpen. The whole country will be cheering you on in the final.”

Oasis singer Liam Gallagher again offered Raducanu his backing, having tweeted after her quarter-final victory.

“Can u dig it congratulations to Emma Raducanu c’mon LG,” he posted.

Raducanu will meet fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final.