As Emma Raducanu makes her French Open main draw debut on Monday, she will enter the court filled with positive memories on her return to Paris for the first time in four years. The last time Raducanu competed here was at the French Open juniors in 2018, where she lost in the second round to Clara Tauson of Denmark. She also enjoyed trips to Paris with the LTA when she was much younger for junior events.
“Four years ago, it sounds like a really long time and it’s gone by really fast,” said Raducanu, smiling. “I remember 2018 was a really good year for me in juniors. I started playing that year, played a free grade twos [a junior tournament] and then I did pretty good at Wimbledon and the US Open. I also won my first title when I was 15, a 15k in Israel.
“I’ve definitely been through a lot more experiences on the court and also off the court but as a person I am the same, genuinely, nothing has changed. I’m still that kid.”
Raducanu will face a different youngster in an interesting first-round match after the qualifiers were finally placed and 17-year-old Linda Noskova was drawn to face the Briton. It will be an unusual situation for Raducanu, her first tour level match against a younger and even more inexperienced player than her.
Noskova, last year’s French Open girls champion, came through her first grand slam qualifying event after dropping only one set. She is another youngster from the long list of talented women’s players being produced in the Czech Republic and has won many matches recently, including a $60k tournament in France last month. She has also risen from outside the top 1,000 at the beginning of last year to a current ranking of 184.
Noskova shares some qualities with Raducanu – she likes to take the ball early, times her shots sweetly and has an impressive down-the-line backhand. Both will be fighting for control of the baseline and it will be interesting to see whether Noskova rises to the occasion on her tour debut.
Despite her own general inexperience, Raducanu will, for once, play the role as the established player on the court and will be charged with maintaining a high and consistent level throughout the match.