Emma Raducanu: Naomi Osaka issues warning over US Open title defence

Emma Raducanu Naomi Osaka

Two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka has delivered some words of warning to Emma Raducanu ahead of her first title defence.

The British number one, who won her maiden Grand Slam title this time last year, will return to the stage where her fairytale journey started this week.

Osaka has reflected on her own success at Flushing Meadows and discussed the pressures of entering the tournament as reigning champion.

Former world number one Osaka has won both the Australian Open and US Open twice, but has never gone beyond the fourth round while defending a title.

“I definitely think there is a bit more stress when you’re defending, especially since people throw the word around,” the Japanese star said.

“You think about points and stuff. You don’t want to have all those points taken off. I definitely think it is something that’s in the back of your mind.

“I don’t know. You just want to replicate the success that you’ve done the year prior.”

Sep 12 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates with the championship trophy after her match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (not pictured) in the women’s singles final on day thirteen of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking points are certainly one of the main focuses when it comes to competing at a Grand Slam tournament.

Raducanu won 2040 points at the US Open after becoming the first qualifier to win a major competition, resulting in her meteoric rise through the WTA rankings.

The teenager skyrocketed more than 300 places and established herself as the new face of British tennis with her never-before-seen achievement.

However, with a huge ranking points haul comes an even bigger risk. Raducanu could face a hefty drop if her title defence doesn’t go to plan — the world number 11 will plummet to outside the top 80 if she loses her opening match on Tuesday.

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Despite entering the tournament as the reigning champion, Raducanu appears completely unfazed, and has stressed she is not overthinking the occasion.

“I think you guys are thinking probably more about pressure and ranking than me,” the 19-year-old said. “I think defending a title is just something that the press makes up.

“I just focus on what I’m doing, my own trajectory. As I said last year, I’m just going to do things my way.”

Raducanu will face world number 40 Alize Cornet in the first round of the US Open at midnight UK time on Tuesday.

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