Emma Raducanu insists she is not feeling the pressure as she prepares to defend her US Open crown.
The teenager's difficult year since her extraordinary triumph in New York continued with defeat to world No 60 Liudmila Samsonov at the Citi Open on the weekend. However, just 20 days out from the US Open, she has denied she is becoming overwhelmed by the intense scrutiny around her.
Pressure "is only either what I put on myself or what I expect from myself", she told Sky Sports. "I only feel the pressure, or even think about it, whenever I'm in my press conferences because every single question is about pressure," she added.
Since New York, Raducanu has played in 16 tournaments and been knocked out by a lower-ranked player 14 times. Her 2022 record stands at: P23, W10, L13, suffering first-round exits in Sydney, Guadalajara, Miami, Rome and Nottingham.
Raducanu expressed excitement at returning to the city where she catapulted to global stardom a year ago. "I just love New York as a place, as a tournament, as a city," she added.
"I love everything about it. So I'm really looking forward to just going back there and whatever happens, I think it's going to be a nice close to a chapter, to go full circle and then, regardless of whatever the result is... it's a clean slate. If all my points drop off, then I'll work my way back up."
Despite a bright start, the 19-year-old squandered a 5-2 lead in the first-set tie-break against Samsonov, losing 8-6 – and then things started to fall apart. Errant groundstrokes and inconsistent serving cost Raducanu the second set 6-1.
In New York last September, she beat five top-50 ranked opponents on her way to the title. Since then, though, her form has been patchy. She has chalked up impressive victories against fellow US Open champion Sloane Stephens and French Open doubles champion Caroline Garcia – as well as making the quarter-finals of three WTA Tour events.
A 6-4, 6-4 defeat by world No 1 Iga Swiatek showed that Raducanu can go toe-to-toe with the best and it is not her overall ability in question. Raducanu will hope to establish a more settled coaching set up in the coming weeks.
On Sept 24, she announced she had split with her US Open mentor Andrew Richardson. Since then she has hired and fired two more coaches and is now working on a "temporary basis" with Dmitry Tursunov – a former player who helped Russia to Davis Cup glory in 2006.
In the men's tournament, Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios became the first person to win the Citi Open singles and doubles titles in the same year.
It was a triumphant return for the Australian to the US capital, where he lifted the men’s singles trophy in 2019 for his last ATP Tour title then tumbled out in the first round of last year’s tournament. Kyrgios, who lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets at the All England Club last month, took just 81 minutes to defeat his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 6-3.