Sonay's delight as she steps out of Raducanu's shadow

Sonay Kartal finally steps out of fellow Brit Emma Raducanu’s shadow as she lines up to make Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon – a decade on from facing the US Open champion at junior level

  • Sonay Kartal played US Open Champion and fellow Brit Emma Raducanu aged 10
  • Kartal is now set to make her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon on Tuesday 
  • She will play Danka Kovinic and a win could see her face World No 1 Iga Swiatek
  • Kartal feels it would be fitting to face Raducanu on the senior stage someday

When Emma Raducanu won the US Open last year, a video went viral of the Brit showcasing her aggressive game at the tender age of nine.

She is testing her opponent with ferocious forehands and a blistering backhand in a baseline rally. Yet the ball just keeps coming back until, finally, Raducanu loses the point to a passing shot down the line.

The victorious girl on the other side of the net was Sonay Kartal, who we will see making her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon.

Sonay Kartal played US Open Champion and fellow Brit Emma Raducanu at the age of nine

‘I was walking my dog and my phone just kept going off,’ says the 20-year-old Brit. ‘I was thinking, “What’s going on?” I hadn’t seen that video, but I remember that point because it was probably one of my best. When that video came out, it was pretty cool to be able to see it.’

It gave Kartal a taste of the spotlight that now shines so brightly on 19-year-old Raducanu, her friend who she grew up facing. ‘I was going to tournaments and coaches from all over the world were saying, “Oh, you’re the girl that’s in the video, aren’t you?” Yep… that’s me,’ Kartal says, laughing sheepishly.

‘I don’t have the same pressures she has. She’s constantly in the public eye whereas I’m not. It hasn’t happened to me. But it’s about the sport. It’s going to happen if that’s your ranking and you’re playing huge events.’

Kartal feels it would be fitting to face Raducanu on the senior stage someday soon, a decade on from their to-and-fros at nine years old. 

‘It would be fun to see if we could replicate that point,’ she says.

In Wimbledon’s first round on Tuesday, Kartal will face Danka Kovinic, the world No 90 who defeated Raducanu in the second round of the Australian Open in January. 

Raducanu rose to fame when she won the US Open at the age of just 18 last September 

Kartal (above) will make her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon when she faces Danka Kovinic

It is a tough ask for Kartal, who currently ranks 226 in the world, but she believes she can spring a surprise.

Beat Kovinic and she would likely then face Iga Swiatek, the world No 1 who arrives at Wimbledon on a 35-match winning streak, potentially on Centre Court.

A win or two at SW19 can do wonders for a player’s profile. Just ask Raducanu after her run to the fourth round last year.

Now it is the turn of the young girl who used to beat Raducanu in her youth to see if she can make a name for herself at this tournament, too.




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