Emma Raducanu warned about US Open 'stress' by Naomi Osaka as Brit seeks to defend title

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Double US Open champion Naomi Osaka has warned Emma Raducanu about the “stress” of defending the title. The Japanese star triumphed in New York in 2018 and 2020 and has also won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021.

But she has never got beyond the fourth round in defence of her four Major titles. World No 11 Raducanu will drop out of the world’s top 80 if she loses her opening match against Alize Cornet (Tuesday midnight UK time).

And world No 44 Osaka, who took a break from tennis after losing in the third round here last year, said: “I definitely think there is a bit more stress when you’re defending, especially since people throw the word around.

“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, like, the success that you’ve done the year prior.”

Raducanu returned to the scene of her greatest triumph earlier this week and admitted her immediate flashback was of feeling ill before making tennis history. The teenager won the US Open as a qualifier 12 months ago to stun the world of tennis.

“I think it’s really nice to be back in New York,” she said. “When you get out of the car here, the last memory I have before the final that morning, I felt so sick in the car here.

“I felt so carsick. I just blamed it on being carsick. But I think I was a bit nervous, too. The whole car journey, my head was in my hands. I was like: ‘What’s going on?’ As soon as I got out of the car, I just promised myself: ‘Look, you just fake it, do whatever you can’, and it worked well that day.

“I’m really happy with what I’ve sort of done this year and how I’ve come out of certain situations.” After only 13 wins in 15 tournaments this year, the world No 11 will fall outside the world’s top 80 if she loses to France’s Alize Cornet in Tuesday’s opening night match in the Louis Armstrong Stadium (at midnight UK time).

Asked about feeling the pressure, the 19-year-old responded: “I think you guys are thinking probably more about pressure and ranking than me. 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.”

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