world : 'Winning ugly' - Raducanu starts with nervy victory

world : 'Winning ugly' - Raducanu starts with nervy victory
world : 'Winning ugly' - Raducanu starts with nervy victory

Monday 1 July 2024 10:31 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Emma Raducanu made a winning return to Wimbledon after coming through a testing first-round battle against Mexican lucky loser Renata Zarazua.

The 21-year-old Briton, who missed last year's tournament through injury, claimed a 7-6 (7-0) 6-3 victory on Centre Court.

Raducanu was supposed to be playing 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and thought she would be the "complete underdog" in her first appearance at the All England Club since losing in the second round two years ago.

Instead, the 2021 US Open champion found herself in a role reversal when the Russian withdrew through illness on Monday morning.

"For the past three days, I've been playing and setting up practice for similar opponents and then it is a change of plan," said Raducanu, who is ranked 135th in the world and was given a wildcard to play.

"It took a little bit of adjusting and finding my feet.

"But I’d like to thank everyone for their support in the crucial moments. I enjoyed playing back here."

Zarazua, who lost in the third round of qualifying, benefited from Alexandrova's absence and was handed her main-draw debut at Wimbledon.

Despite the size of the occasion, she pushed Raducanu in what was a tense performance at times from the home favourite.

But the Briton, who was fired up and showed her passion throughout, had enough quality to eventually come through.

After Zarazua saved a match point on her own serve at 5-2, Raducanu set up another with a superb dash to the net to pick up a drop shot and clinched victory when her opponent put a sliced backhand long.

Raducanu said her love for the sport had returned this summer and the beaming smile which greeted the success signalled her happiness.

"I'm incredibly happy to be back here on court," added Raducanu, who plays Belgium's Elise Mertens next.

"I was nervous, I think everyone could see that in my tennis but at the end of the day you have to do whatever it takes to get over the line.

"Honestly, watching the football last night, it was winning ugly – it all counts."

Raducanu was the first Briton to reach the second round and, moments later, was joined by Lily Miyazaki.

The British number four secured her first victory in the Wimbledon main draw with a 6-2 6-1 success against Germany's Tamara Korpatsch.

The 28-year-old's reward is a meeting with 14th seed Daria Kasatkina on Wednesday.

Born in Japan, Miyazaki moved to London aged 10 and began playing for Britain in 2022.

After earning her first Grand Slam main-draw win at the US Open in August, she added another with a confident display against Korpatsch.

Miyazaki dropped just seven points on serve, and took five of nine break points for a success that took just 58 minutes.

Qualifier Sonay Kartal ensured it was a hat-trick of home wins with a stunning 3-6 6-2 6-0 victory over 29th seed Sorana Cirstea.

The 22-year-old Londoner had never won a match on the WTA Tour before shocking an opponent ranked 267 places higher.

Heather Watson opened one of the jewels of the British sporting summer from a home perspective, playing first on a packed Court 18 which was hopeful of the home players getting off to a positive start.

However, the 32-year-old Briton lost 7-5 6-4 to Belgium's world number 80 Greet Minnen - who is also Watson's doubles partner.

Watson was given a wildcard to enter her 14th tournament at SW19 after slipping to 199 in the rankings.

Shortly after, Charles Broom lost 6-3 7-5 6-4 to three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka on his main-draw debut at a major.

Broom, 26, was given a wildcard after an impressive run to the Nottingham Open final last month, then further rewarded with an eye-catching draw against the 39-year-old Swiss.

After a nervous start, the British number 11 settled to lead 5-2 in the second set but became tight as he tried to serve out and level the match.

Arthur Fery twice led before losing 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 6-3 6-1 to German Daniel Altmaier on Court 16.

The 21-year-old, who was brought up close to the All England Club, produced some fine tennis before losing momentum in the fourth set, where he received treatment from the physio at the change of every end.

Liam Broady also crashed out after a four-set battle with Dutch former world number 22 Botic van de Zandschulp.

The 30-year-old was back at Wimbledon following a frustrating year - compounded by suffering concussion last month after hitting his head on the boot of his own car.

The freak accident came after an ankle injury which sidelined Broady for three months.

Despite the lack of match practice, he produced a valiant performance in the 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 defeat.

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