Emma Raducanu in action at the Billie Jean King Cup
Emma Raducanu is in the midst of a maiden claycourt season of her young career. After navigating a quarterfinal run in Stuttgart last week, the 19-year-old will hope to carry her newfound flair for the red dirt into the 2022 Madrid Open, which begins on April 28.
The line-up for the WTA 1000 event boasts a slew of A-listers including Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka; former champions Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep. Raducanu enters Madrid as the No. 9 seed and finds herself in the top half of the draw alongside World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential opponents awaiting the reigning US Open in the Spanish city:
Emma Raducanu aiming for 2nd straight win over Tereza Martincova
Raducanu defeated Martincova at the Billie Jean King Cup Play-Off: Day One
Emma Raducanu is slated to kickstart her campaign in Madrid against Tereza Martincova. The duo will face off for the second time this month after the Brit outlasted the Czech in straight sets at the Billie Jean King Cup Play-Offs.
While both players have had a lackluster 2022 season thus far, 27-year-old Martincova is yet to open her winning account on clay. She competed in Istanbul last week but faltered in the opening round against unseeded Hungarian Anna Bondar.
The World No. 49, nevertheless, will be keen to grab her maiden win of the claycourt season in Madrid and is expected to pose a stern challenge to the Brit.
Marta Kostyuk got the better of Emma Raducanu at the 2021 Transylvania Open
A win over Martincova will lead Emma Raducanu to a face-off against either of her fellow teenagers Clara Tauson or Marta Kostyuk. The Brit frequently encountered the duo whilst playing on the junior circuit, and has already begun a rivalry on the professional tour.
While Raducanu’s head-to-head against Tauson is tied at 1-1, she lost her sole meeting with the Ukrainian at the 2021 Transylvania Open. Both Tauson and Kostyuk will be seen in action this week for the first time since the Miami Open last month.
Given the duo’s relative lack of recent court time on clay, Emma Raducanu should be able to eke out a win.
Clash of Grand Slam champions brewing in Round 3
Sloane Stephens at the 2022 Miami Open
Emma Raducanu could face one of the WTA Tour veterans and fellow Major winners Garbine Muguruza and Sloane Stephens in the third round in Madrid. While the Brit never took the court against Muguruza, she did prevail over the American at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The duo have made the finals at Roland Garros in the past, with the Spaniard going a step further in 2016. While Muguruza will hope to have recovered from a shoulder injury she sustained at Indian Wells, Stephens will look to see a resurgence in form in Madrid.
Although the tournament hasn’t been the ideal hunting ground for the two players, it could still pose a severe challenge to Raducanu’s progress at the WTA 1000 event.
Quarter-final showdown with the unstoppable Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek with the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Stuttgart 2022
Should the 2021 US Open champion manage to stay unflinched in her journey to the quarter-finals, she could face her most difficult test yet against top seed Iga Swiatek. The Pole defeated Emma Raducanu in Stuttgart last week before clinching her fourth consecutive WTA title in the German city.
The 2020 French Open champion is on a 23-match winning streak and is looking almost invincible at the moment. Raducanu will hope to produce her best tennis in a potential encounter with the World No. 1.
Maria Sakkari/Danielle Collins could await Emma Raducanu in the final four
Maria Sakkari is currently ranked No. 5 on the WTA rankings
Coming out unscathed from her quarter of the draw will be a massive shift in fortunes for the 19-year-old, who is yet to make a semi-final since her exploits at Flushing Meadows last year. Emma Raducanu could possibly face fourth seed Maria Sakkari or the hard-hitting Danielle Collins in the final four.
While she hasn’t met Collins before, Raducanu bagged a comprehensive victory over the Greek in their sole encounter at the 2021 US Open.
Aryna Sabalenka/Paula Badosa standing in way of her maiden WTA title
Aryna Sabalenka won the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open
Emma Raducanu knows how to pull off the unfathomable, hence it wouldn’t be the biggest shock to see her in the final of her maiden WTA 1000 claycourt event. She could find defending champion Aryna Sabalenka as her potential opponent in the final. Home favorite Paula Badosa could also await the teenager in the championship match.
The duo have had plenty of success on the red dirt before, hence they will look to showcase the best of their clay-court prowess in the final. Raducanu has never faced the duo before, but will hope to play to her strengths and stay assertive during the longer exchanges.