From Emma Raducanu came a sharp reminder that she is much more than a shock Major champion and a sponsorship opportunity waiting to happen.
She stepped out to play a first senior clay court match yesterday, her first senior outing in a GB shirt, and gave another taste of why she has already achieved extraordinary things in her first twelve months on tour.
Making light of her inexperience, she levelled Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against the formidable Czech Republic team at 1-1 with a 7-5 7-5 victory over world number 50 Tereza Martincova.
While not an upset on paper, a straight sets win was definitely not the expected outcome on clay, the surface which so often bamboozles those who have rarely set foot on it.
In Raducanu’s case she had not played any kind of match on the brown dirt since the 2018 French Open junior event, but she had the resourcefulness to work it out as she went along.
That ability is why, once this period of abrupt life and career adjustment is over, there is every chance she will emerge a something more permanent than the meteor which struck last year’s US Open.
Her tendency to blow a decent start, seen since that extraordinary triumph, was banished on this occasion to make it her best performance since Flushing Meadows.
‘This year, I’ve been playing really good tennis for a set, maybe set and a half then my energy dips,” she said later. ‘And then I find myself in an absolute battle and it lets me down but today I feel like it’s another step in the right direction because I’ve managed to overcome that. So this does give me a lot of confidence that I am getting physically better. I’m doing everything off the court to be the best I can.
‘I had to find a way to adapt and also I’m very pleased with the way that I managed to up my intensity after trailing 1-4 in the second set. The conditions were windy and they changed a lot, so this one means a lot to me.’
Martincova is not, it should be said, a clay specialist herself and at times this looked like two players contesting a hard court match. With the wind sometimes gusting across this unusual venue – Stvanice Island, sitting in the middle of the river Vltava that flows through the capital – Raducanu managed to win despite contributing seven double faults.
The pivotal game came at 4-4 in the second set when the GB number one withstood huge pressure to hold onto her serve, showing bloody-minded determination and impressive reserves of energy.
It was also notable how the teenager has already made technical adjustments to get more loop on her forehand.
‘I thought that was a really gutsy performance from Emma. For her to be able to close that match out in straight sets, it took a huge effort,’ said GB Captain Anne Keothavong.
A shock GB win in the tie, which would guarantee a place in November’s Finals, remains a long shot with two singles and a doubles to play.
Today Raducanu will face Marketa Vondrousova, who she upset in Wimbledon’s second round last summer to wake the country up to the fact that it had an unusual talent on its hands.
Repeating that result on clay would be an even more significant result. Vondrousova reached the 2019 French Open final and earlier showed her class on this surface to overwhelm British number two Harriet Dart 6-1 6-0, who also served seven double faults.
Keothavong might be tempted to throw in one of her reserve players like 20 year-old Sonay Kartal to play the second singles today. The Czechs have such strength in depth that they have plenty of options to counter any surprise pick from the GB skipper.