Even in a single-minded individual sport such as tennis, one person’s success can have an impact on more than just their own career. As Emma Raducanu prepares for her second round at the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca, her opponent, Ana Bogdan, says that her US Open victory from qualifying has been an inspirational example to the lower‑ranked players on the WTA tour, demonstrating the possibilities within the sport with hard work.
“Of course,” Bogdan said. “Even to me! Yes, even to me. I say, everything is possible. Everything is achievable if you work hard, if you believe and keep being positive. If you do the right things then you can do it. It’s very, very important to have the right attitude. That is what I admired when I saw her.”
The 28-year-old Bogdan stood alongside Raducanu and a tight‑knit group of Romanian players on Sunday as they gave emotional speeches to tennis fans in the country. New Covid restrictions came into place on Monday, meaning spectators would not be allowed in the stadium.
“I admired her focus, her footwork, her shots and the way she behaved,” she said. “Yes, for me it was an inspiration and an inspiration for many, many girls out there. She is a great athlete and a great champion.”
Raducanu has spoken at length about the necessity of gaining experience and this second round match will provide another learning opportunity. After her gritty 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win against Polona Hercog in the first round, in which she faced break point in nervous moments at 4-4 and 5-5 in the second set before reeling off eight of the final nine games to win, she will have to adjust to a starkly different player, one who watched her closely in recent months but who she is not at all familiar with.
“I know her a little bit off court, we spoke a bit, and she was really nice and friendly,” Raducanu said. “I have never played against her. A great opponent but I have not seen much just yet.”
While Hercog is a tall, serve‑dominant player who imposed her weighty forehand on Raducanu, Bogdan is relatively small and she can often be overpowered by elite opponents. On her day, though, she is a solid counterpuncher with a sweet backhand that she can take early and time smoothly. On the slow courts in Cluj-Napoca, Bogdan will be keen to extend the rallies and elicit errors from Raducanu. But the 18-year-old will dictate the exchanges and have the clear advantage with her weight of shot.
With her industry and skill, however, Bogdan’s career is a reflection of how everyone has their own timeline and route to success. Some may burst through to grand slam success at 18 years old, but others reach the apex of their career with time and maturity. Bogdan was once the No 2 junior player in the world, yet after years spent on the lower‑level ITF tour she finally rose into the top 100 in 2018 aged 25.
On Wednesday, Simona Halep, the top seed, comfortably moved into the second round with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Elena-Gabriela Ruse. Halep will face Varvara Gracheva of Russia in the second round as, like Raducanu, she closes off the season in Cluj and then Linz, Austria. After a season beset by injuries, Halep is looking to re-establish her form in her final events of the year.