- Raducanu wins third successive match for first time since US Open triumph
- The British No 1 is yet to lose a set in Seoul
- The 19-year-old will face No 1 seed Jelena Ostapenko
While the tennis world’s eyes are glued toRoger Federer’s imminent farewell, Emma Raducanu has been enjoying herself 5,000 miles away in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Playing world No 51 Magda Linette in Friday’s quarter-final, Raducanu dropped only four games. It was a telling moment, because her 6-2, 6-2, win carries her to her first semi-final since last year’s US Open breakthrough – and her first in any WTA event.
Playing in this relative tennis backwater, Raducanu has finally gathered some momentum by collecting three victories on the bounce. Which, again, is something she hasn’t managed since receiving that $2.5m cheque in New York 54 weeks ago.
Taken in isolation, none of her three wins in Seoul looks like a game-changer. But together they suggest that Raducanu’s confidence is gradually picking up after what has been an extremely testing year.
"I'm really happy to have come through, of course, and made my first semi-finals," Raducanu said. "I think Magda is feeling it a bit physically. She’s had a lot of matches, a lot of good wins, because she's a really top player, and sometimes it catches up with the body.
"You gotta mark the moment, in a way. I think it's pretty cool to have reached my first semi-final, and to build my way on the tour in the right way, and to be going through the stages. I think it is quite a nice reward for all the hard work that I have done on the practice court and a lot of hours. It's a really nice feeling."
Linette is an experienced opponent, a 30-year-old Pole with a solid game but no killer shot – as evidenced by the fact that she has never gone past the third round of a slam.
In this instance, Linette was also showing the after-effects of a busy fortnight, including a 2hr 46min struggle against Kristina Mladenovic in the previous round. Her left leg was strapped up, and when she was pushed wide, she struggled to recover to the middle of the court.
Still, there were patches of this match when Linette competed strongly, notably at the start of the second set. She held 0-40 in Raducanu’s opening service game, threatening a shift in momentum.
Raducanu’s response was to bang down first serves on the next four points and head off the danger. She then broke to 15 in the next game with a delightful chipped return winner, which only just cleared the net as it skidded past Linette at an impossible angle.
The first serve was a potent weapon for Raducanu, who didn’t lose a single point in the opening set when she landed it. As with many of the players on the WTA Tour, her backhand is the shot that she feels most comfortable with, whereas the quality of the serve and forehand tend to wax and wane from one week to the next.
Here, her whole game was working smoothly, with forehand winners flowing both down the line and cross-court. It should be said, though, that Linette was feeding her plenty of comfortably paced balls in the middle of the court to attack.
Never mind: you still have to put the ball away, because even a wounded opponent is likely to be inspired by a glimpse of weakness. Here, Raducanu is benefiting from a run of matches on her favourite surface – hard courts – without any significant injury worries, even if she still continues to report minor problems such as the thigh niggle she had treatment on in Slovenia last week.
"It was pretty cold conditions. And windy, actually, but it's the same for both players," Raducanu said. "You just have to remind yourself of that. I don't think either of us were feeling great out there. So it's a mental battle with yourself. And yeah, I'm happy with how I pushed through that."
In all probability, she is also feeling less pressure now that she is no longer the US Open champion. That freakish victory in New York made her a global star, but it also inflated her ranking – which reached a high point of No 10 after Wimbledon – to a level that she wasn’t able to live up to.
After her first-round exit from the US Open less than four weeks ago, Raducanu told reporters that “In a way [I’m] happy because it's a clean slate. I'm going to drop down the rankings. Climb my way back up.”
To her credit, she has lived up to her words by going straight back to these entry-level events – the WTA 250s – and giving her best effort, despite the unglamorous surroundings.
In that same press conference, Raducanu said “I want [to win] another tournament. “It makes a massive difference no matter what the level is.”
If she is to make good on her intentions in Seoul, she will now have to overcome top seed Jelena Ostapenko – the 2017 French Open champion – who was equally dominant in her own quarter-final victory over Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva.
Raducanu comfortably beats Linette: As it happened
Raducanu wins 6-2, 6-2 Linette
Raducanu unerring for the baseline again, a fantastic display of power and shot-making. She moves into a 30-0 lead and is closing in on the semi-finals.
She finds another winner with a superb backhand. And on the next point, she moves in for the easiest of winners after Linette's return was week.
That's that! Raducanu has won six straight sets and three matches in a row for the first time since last year's US Open.
Raducanu* 6-2, 4-1 Linette (*denotes next server)
Linette's previous match took 2hr 46 mins so that may have taken its toll. Unforced error from the Pole enables Raducanu to get back 15-15 against serve. One more break and you would have to think its curtains for Linette.
Another brilliant forehand down the line from Raducanu to move to 30-15, beautifully done.
And just like in the first set Raducanu is ruthless in her pursuit of a break of serve! A set and double break up now.
Raducanu 6-2, 3-1 Linette* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu starts well after the break with a wide serve that Linette fails to deal with. But on second serve, Linette wins the next point to level at 15-15.
But Raducanu makes it 18/18 points on first serve, before Linette's forehand winner levels the game again. But Raducanu's first serve proves strong enough again and she holds a crucial game.
Raducanu* 6-2, 2-1 Linette (*denotes next server)
Not winning that game against serve was a body blow for Linette, and she looks ragged at the start of this game. Raducanu is into a 30-0 lead after a Linette forehand is called long.
Raducanu now has a couple of break points of here own! What a turnaround this will be.
And Raducanu delivers. There is a clear path to victory now: a set and a break up.
Raducanu 6-2, 1-1 Linette* (*denotes next server)
Linette warming to her task now, winning one of the points of the match by moving in close after a drop shot.
The Pole's backhand is proving effective, and she earns her first break point of the match. But Raducanu shows some guts to win the next two points, and give herself a chance of an unlikely hold from 40-0 down.
Raducanu fires another forehand down the line to get back to deuce! Her next winner is just as good, this time going cross-court. Advantage Raducanu. Linette cannot deal with another Raducanu first serve, and that is another hold.
First set: Raducanu 6-2 Linette
Raducanu maintains her record of not dropping a point on first serve in this match, moving into a 30-15 lead.
Linette replies to level the game, but Raducanu steps up and flushes her second Ace of the match. The Briton has set point, but Linette salvages it with better play from the baseline.
But Raducanu produces a corker of a backhand to claim the first set. That's five sets in a row this week.
Raducanu* 5-2 Linette (*denotes next server)
Linette wins the first two points on serve, before Raducanu benefits from a big slice of good fortune with a flukey winner that clipped the net. Raducanu's cross-court backhand then flies out, and Linette wins the next point to hold. Raducanu will serve for the set next.
Raducanu 5-1 Linette* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu is two holds of serve away from winning the set, and she makes a sound start here to go 15-0 up.
Excellent stuff from both in the following rally, but Raducanu's creditable return is too long. Linette then mis-cues a backhand and gazes down at the court blaming a bad bounce. Raducanu 30-15 up.
Thunderous forehand down the line from Raducanu to move to 40-15. Then a deft drop shot proves decisive and that is another service game banked. Very impressive from Raducanu.
Raducanu* 4-1 Linette (*denotes next server)
Linette being made to work hard for the first point on serve, but she wins it via a double-handed backhand. A good wide serve from Linette gets the better of Raducanu, 30-0.
Linette finding some rhythm now, and another Ace wins her first game of the match. Linette on the scoreboard after a tough start.
Raducanu 4-0 Linette* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu dominating from deep on the court at the moment, has Linette scrambling all over the place. Raducanu's backhand very effective so far. Another service game is claimed decisively 40-15. The match is only 15 minutes old but she is charge of this first set.
Raducanu* 3-0 Linette (*denotes next server)
Raducanu dispatches a Linette serve that was too short, but the Pole delivers a strong response, 15-15.
Linette is struggling to match Raducanu in the rallies though, and she uses the angles well with a back hand to ear two break points.
And there it is! What a start this has been for Raducanu, a double break up. If she sustains this it may be her most impressive showing in some time.
Raducanu 2-0 Linette* (*denotes next server)
Can Raducanu consolidate that break and win her first service game? It's an assured start with an Ace, before she moves in to the net after forcing Linette wide and volleys another winner. 30-0 to Raducanu.
Her next serve is too hot for Linette to handle, 40-0.
Raducanu looking really strong in the early stages, and a wonderful forehand down the line wins the game to love.
First set: Raducanu* 1-0 Linette (*denotes next server)
Raducanu looking to show her power and dictate from the baseline. Linette with a few ropey serves in the early stages and the Briton establishes a 30-0 lead.
A better serve gets slightly big on Raducanu who mis-cues a back hand, 30-15 Linette. A Raducanu forehand has too much on it, and Linette recovers to 30-30.
Raducanu gets the better of the following rally and has break point, and there is the break! Linette challenges her shot down the line that was called out, but out it was.
Perfect start from Raducanu against the No 3 seed.
Can Raducanu march on in Korea?
Good morning and welcome to coverage of Emma Raducanu's rebuild in the wake of her first-round exit from the US Open as she takes on Magda Linette of Poland in the last eight of the Korea Open.
Raducanu reached this stage after easing to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer on Thursday morning.
The British No 1 and sixth seed, who has been plagued by injury niggles, is determined to make progress here in Seoul after failing to defend her grand slam title in New York and a second-round defeat at last week's Slovenia Open.
"My goal on the court is to keep trying to swing freer and freer in each match. And my other goal is to try and stay in Korea for as long as possible," she said.
"Last week I struggled a bit with my legs, just doing a lot of training, and as I said, the rest of this year is just really trying to build up physically for the next year.
"So I'm training a lot - like before the match today, I did 90 minutes on the court, and I'm just trying to get myself in good shape.
"And that comes sometimes with small niggles. At the moment, it's something I'm just managing, but I know it's for a greater benefit so I've kind of bought into that process."