Emma Raducanu has been handed a clear sign that she may not be the top British female player for much longer after Team GB secured a shock 3-0 triumph over Spain in the Billie Jean King Cup in her absence. The 19-year-old was forced to pull out of the tournament through injury to cap off what has largely been a miserable year for the former US Open winner.
Yet she does not appear to be being missed, with Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and the doubles pairing of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls sensationally all winning their respective matches against Spain to send Anne Keothavong’s side into the final four of the competition for the first time in 40 years, despite losing the opening round against Kazakhstan.
Raducanu must have felt more than a tinge of jealousy as she watched Team GB celebrate their unlikely triumph, and if things keep going as they are it may not be too long before she is usurped by one of her fellow domestic rivals as No.1 in the country.
Great Britain will now face Australia in the semi-finals in Glasgow on Saturday, and Keothavong spoke with glowing pride about those involved. “This is something really special,” she said. “I am so proud of this team, every single player on this team has done themselves proud.
“We are fortunate to be in this competition for reasons you’re all aware of but to then deliver and get through to the semi-finals, I mean, it’s incredible. It’s down to the players. The way they approached the match today was just amazing. It sure is historic.”
Watson, who thrashed Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-0 6-2, added: “I was really happy with my level today, I played super aggressive and had so much fun out there. I do love playing in this atmosphere. I have had my best Grand Slam results at Wimbledon and I love playing at home. It brings out the best in me.”
Dart, meanwhile, beat Paula Badosa 6-3 6-4 in one of the most impressive performances of her career, and said: “I was so inspired by Heather’s performance this afternoon, she played awesome. I just wanted to play half as good as she did and I think I put in a good performance today.”
It remains to be seen when Raducanu’s next match will be, but all eyes will soon turn to the first Major of 2023, with the Australian Open taking place in January. Earlier this year Raducanu disappointingly went out in the second round, losing in three sets to Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
And she will be hoping for a better showing this time around as she aims to kick-off what will hopefully be a much more productive and successful year of tennis.