Carefree Raducanu soaks up US Open buzz

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Emma Raducanu's life changed in a New York minute on Saturday when she defeated Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final to become a grand slam champion.

Already the darling of British tennis with her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon earlier this year, the 18-year-old has cemented her status as a bona fide megastar after swatting aside more experienced opponents and stunning the world of sport to become the first qualifier to win a major tennis title.

"I thought Wimbledon was such an incredible experience. Fourth round, second week, I couldn't believe it. I thought, what a great achievement," Raducanu told reporters of her All England campaign that ended when she retired mid-match due breathing difficulties.

"But I was still hungry."

Just months after finishing high school, she told reporters she hasn't given much thought to how radically her life is about to change, with her ranking set to soar from 150th to 23rd in the world.

"I'm not even thinking about, like, when I'm going home. I have no idea when I'm going home," she said.

"I'm just really trying to embrace the moment, really take it all in... Right now, no care in the world, I'm just loving life."

So striking was her performance that it eclipsed headlines for Novak Djokovic's attempt at a calendar grand slam, what many had presumed would be the main source of chatter on the plaza at the Billie Jean National Tennis Center.

There was no one perhaps more surprised by her run than Raducanu herself, as she told reporters she had her flight booked for the end of the qualifying rounds after finishing as the runner-up at the Chicago Challenger and contending in tournaments in Pennsylvania and California.

Her gruelling schedule had her mildly concerned over her ability to withstand the tough challenges she faced in New York.

But she moved through Flushing Meadows with ease, winning 20 straight sets, including her three qualifying matches.

"I don't feel absolutely any pressure," she said.

"I'm still only 18 years old. I'm just having a free swing at anything that comes my way."

Hoisting the trophy to the roaring crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the grand dame of British tennis Virginia Wade looked on, the scene was a far cry from the start of her journey, when she told ESPN she lost her Apple AirPods before her first qualifying match.

Running around and looking for the pricey ear buds, she said she comforted herself by saying, "You win this match, you can buy yourself a pair of AirPods."

Instead she's walking away with $2.5 million ($A3.5m) in prize money, with a host of endorsements likely on the way, as she earned the acclaim from the British royal family and fellow sports stars with her celebrity-making achievement.

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