Emma Raducanu is impressing both on and off the court in Melbourne it seems – after charming the city’s residents, and tennis fans on social media, with her take on the Aussie accent.
Ahead of her victory today in the first round of the tournament – against US player Sloane Stephens, the 19-year-old US Open winner showed off her impressive grasp of the local intonation to reporters from the official Australian Open TV channel.
The player, who was raised in Bromley in the UK, picked out some key phrases including ‘G’Day mate!’ and ‘I’ll have an almond milk flat white’ to show her strong grasp of the Australian accent.
Giggling nervously as she said the phrases, the teenager, who was born in Ontario, Canada, quickly apologised profusely, fearing she’d butchered her attempts, saying: ‘I’m sorry, to everyone!’
It’s not the first time the teenager has made an effort to win the affections of the locals; in New York last year, she displayed a talent for speaking her mother’s native tongue of Mandarin, and, while playing in Romania, her father’s country of birth, in October, she addressed the home crowd in their native language.
‘Perfect!’ The defending US Open tennis star gave Australian Open reporters her take on the local accent in Melbourne ahead of her first match – and, despite the fact the 19-year-old looked mortified, many were impressed
On court today, the British teenager beat US player Sloane Stephens in three sets. She will now play Danka Kovinic, the World No 98 from Montenegro, in round two on Thursday
Referencing Australia’s love of coffee, Raducanu said: ‘I’ll have an almond milk flat white’ as she showed off her grasp of the country’s accent
Fearing offence, Bromley-raised Raducanu quickly apologised…but didn’t need to, it seems
In Melbourne, other top flight players including Medvedev Daniil, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova also had a go…with mixed results.
On social media, many deemed Raducanu’s accent as the most impressive although some pointed out it was easier to pick up if English is your native language.
On Instagram, emil_t.m wrote: ‘Emma’s accent sounds almost native lol.’
itscandicex added: ‘Emma’s accent was spot on’ and Franklinnluu agreed, saying: ‘Emma’s sounded perfect.’
j.jabara tempered with: ‘Well, she is British so it’s not that hard for her.’
It seems languages are definitely an area of strength for Raducanu though. In October, she told a crowd while playing a tournament in Romania – where her father Ian comes from – that she had a decent grasp of their language – much to their delight.
She said: ‘The thing is I can understand like 80 per cent of Romanian. I don’t want to big myself up, I just really struggle to find my words. When I got told about doing this thing at the end of practice, at the changeovers I was just thinking of my vocab.’
Russian player Daniil Medvedev kept it simple, having a go at Australia’s favourite greeting
Petra Kvitova, from the Czech Republic, appeared to enjoy repeating some of the phrases she’d heard while in Melbourne
On court in Melbourne today, Raducanu shone at a grand slam once again as she marked her Australian Open debut with victory in the battle of the US Open champions against Stephens.
The 19-year-old has found wins hard to come by since her extraordinary success in New York in September but, back on the big stage, Raducanu came up with the right formula again to claim a 6-0 2-6 6-1 victory.
She lost just four points in a startling first set that admittedly was woeful from Stephens before the American hit her stride in the second.
That set up a first ever decider at this level for Raducanu, and she could not have handled it any better, keeping her cool and striking the ball with confidence to clinch victory after an hour and 45 minutes.
Raducanu held her nerve under the lights to progress to round two in Australia today
Both players went into the match undercooked – Raducanu after a battle with Covid-19 and Stephens following her wedding to footballer Jozy Altidore on New Year’s Day.
Raducanu won only one game against Elena Rybakina in Sydney last week having just returned to full training and it was hard to know what to expect from her here.
What transpired in a remarkable 17-minute first set was that Raducanu had found her sharpness while Stephens looked like she was still on honeymoon.
Stephens made error after error, allowing Raducanu the freedom to go for winners, which she made with aplomb.
Stephens looked a star in the making when she reached the semi-finals here nine years ago but her career had been more troughs than peaks prior to a brilliant run to the title in New York in 2017.
Her opponent Sloane Stephens made error after error early on, allowing Raducanu the freedom to go for winners
The US Open winner came up with the right formula once more to claim a 6-0 2-6 6-1 victory
The last few years have brought a few more highlights mixed with many underwhelming results but Stephens remains a fluent ball striker and sublime mover, and someone who often finds her best on the big stage.
Her scalps at the slams last year included Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys and Coco Gauff, and she set about turning things around at the start of the second set.
She was helped initially by a dip in level from Raducanu but it did not appear to bode well for the teenager that, even when she found her range again, the fleet-footed Stephens still had the answers.
Raducanu knew how important the start of the deciding set was and she gave a gritty fist pump after holding serve in the first game.
If there was evidence here of Raducanu’s greenness, there was also plenty of the prodigious ball-striking that wowed fans and players alike at Wimbledon and the US Open, and the competitive steel that was just as important in her success.
She broke Stephens to lead 2-0 and then overcame an embarrassing moment when she thought she had won the next game only to be told by the umpire that it was in fact 40-15.
Stephens’ heart for the fight began to ebb away and, although she avoided a second bagel, a netted backhand gave Raducanu victory on her third match point.