She’s only 18-years-old, but Emma Raducanu is now the only woman representing the home team in the Wimbledon draw. She faced the 2019 French Open finalist, Marketa Vondrousova, in the second round and comprehensively defeated the Czech 6-2 6-4 in just over an hour.
Vondrousova herself is no stranger to success and hype at a young age. The Czech is only 22 herself, but it would be fair to say that grass is a surface that she has yet to master. Regardless, it was the remarkable consistency, accuracy, and power of the British player that forced Vondrousova onto the back foot.
A match of two halves
It didn’t seem that would be the case as Vondrousova held to love in the opening game. However, the power of the teenager came into play as she won the next five games in a row. It was remarkable to see just how many lines Raducanu hit in the first set. Painting lines is usually reserved for the little vehicles on the edges of the streets of London but the Toronto-born teenager was doing her best to give them a run for their money.
The second set started with a stutter though. Vondrousova went 3-0 up and failed to take two breakpoints for 4-0. This failure came back to haunt her as she lost her serve to love in the subsequent game. This set up the come back and Raducanu was not in the mood to turn such invitations down. She roared back into the set saving another breakpoint and then taking one of her own to set herself up to serve the match out.
Does full-time tennis beckon now for Raducanu?
For a regular teenager in their home grand slam for the first time, this situation had the potential to be daunting. However, Raducanu managed to keep up her first serve percentage and was able to cruise through to the third round. She became the youngest Brit to reach the third round since the late Elena Baltacha in 2002.
Raducanu had been studying for her A-Levels (exams taken at 18 in the UK) until only a couple of months ago. A lot has been made of her low ranking, she is the lowest-ranked player remaining in the draw, but she hasn’t been playing full-time on the tour. Her tournament history is almost solely made up mostly of UK events. Despite this, she has won 3 ITF titles already and that ranking of #336 is going to improve drastically after this tournament.
An international family
Although Raducanu represents Great Britain she is the poster girl of modern society. Born in Toronto to a Romanian father and Chinese mother she moved over to the UK with her parents at two years old. She is gaining popularity in Romania with her confession of love for Simona Halep AND her grandmother’s Romanian cooking!
English she is though. I personally spent some time in her presence at ITF Sunderland last year, where she beat Clara Tauson in the semifinal, but lost to Viktoriya Tomova in the final. She has an aura about her but was exceptionally popular with the other players. She is very focused in her approach as well, taking in her coach’s instructions studiously before her matches.
Britain’s last female Grand Slam singles winner was Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977. Johanna Konta has made the semifinals in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments but never reached a final. Will Emma Raducanu be the one to break these records? Surely it is too much of an ask to do that in 2021 but hopes are high that the youngster will flourish over the next few years into a quality player. She plays Sorana Cirstea in the next round and she will surely be focused on that next hurdle.
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