British tennis stars Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu have crashed out of Wimbledon after losing their second round matches at the All England Club on Wednesday.
Emma Raducanu lost her clash with Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 on Centre Court – before shrugging off claims about the pressure she has faced since storming to a shock victory at the US Open last year.
The teen star called talk of pressure on her shoulders as ‘a joke’ at her post-match press conference and insisted reaching the second round of Wimbledon was something to be proud of.
‘There’s no pressure,’ she said. ‘Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. It’s a joke. I literally won a slam.
‘Yes, I have had attention. But I’m a slam champion, so no one’s going to take that away from me. If anything, the pressure is on those who haven’t done that.’
Fellow Brit hopeful and former champion Andy Murray fared no better as he was knocked out by American John Isner 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 4-6.
The Scot was seen losing his composure in the final set of his match which capped off his return to SW19 after years of injury woes.
The former world number one remains convinced he can still challenge at the grand slams despite the earliest Wimbledon exit of his career but admitted he cannot offer any guarantees.
The two-time Wimbledon champion said: ‘Has my opinion changed based on tonight’s match? No.
‘I think most of the players on the tour would tell you that a match like that was won or lost based on a few points here and there. I didn’t play well enough on those points tonight.
‘I certainly didn’t serve well enough at the beginning of the match, which I think is understandable. Look, he’s a difficult opponent to play against.
‘Tonight’s match, I don’t see why it should change that view really.’
Murray, who made his Wimbledon debut in 2005, wants to return to the scene of his greatest triumphs next year.
Raducanu looked to the sky when her exit was confirmed on the prestigious Wimbledon Centre Court today
The Brit’s famous smile was nowhere to be seen with her early tournament exit confirmed on Centre Court earlier today
Murray was seen to be lost his cool several times during the deciding set of his second round loss on Centre Court
Murray returned to the site of his greatest triumphs but will not be able to replicate his Centre Court success this year
But he added: ‘It depends on how I am physically. If physically I feel good, then we’ll try to keep playing.
‘But it’s extremely difficult with the problems I’ve had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions about how I’m going to be even in a few weeks’ time, never mind in a year’s time.
‘If physically I’m in a good place, yeah, I will continue to play. But it’s not easy to keep my body in optimal condition to compete at the highest level.’
The loss of two of British tennis’ biggest stars within hours of each other left tennis fans dismayed, despite a record number of Brits making it to round two of the prestigious tournament.
During the game, Murray was seen covering his face in despair and bowing his head towards the ground after losing a point.
Centre Court spectators echoed his emotions in the moments after the match, attributing his loss to Isner’s strong serve and speculating that it could lead to lower attendance figures in the coming days.
Lucy Morrison, 48, a housewife from East Sheen in nearby SW14, said: ‘It’s just so devastating, always, he had this in the palm of his hands until he meets someone like that, you can’t beat that serve.
‘When you see that guy’s serve, you get to the tie break, you’re never going to beat him on a tie break. It’s frustrating.’
Murray reacts during his Second Round Match against John Isner which saw him struggle to deal with the American’s serve
Murray fed off of the Centre Court crowd who roared in support of the Scot who has won Wimbledon twice before
He was unable to cope with his American opponent’s power serve which proved the difference during a spirited match
Speaking about team GB’s performance overall, Ms Morrison added: ‘We thought we had the best line-up – we did, but we’ve just seen two Brits go out, which is really sad. We’ve got to set our sights on the up-and-coming newbies.’
Ms Morrison noted that there were ‘still seats available’ even in the Centre Court game.
Richard Evans, 32, from Peckham, south-east London watched on the court with his girlfriend, and said after the downfall of some major British names Wimbledon officials are ‘going to struggle to get people here’.
He said: ‘I think it’s a shame for Murray but John Isner just played really well.
‘I thought it was always going to be a tough match, so it’s unfortunate.
‘Today’s not been great for the Brits at all, I think Wimbledon are going to struggle to get people here now.’
‘Norrie got through today and he’s a great player,’ he added. ‘Maybe it’s time for some new players to do well.’
Dominique Sikora, 54, from Liege in Belgium, said even the foreign tennis fans felt Sir Andy’s anguish at the loss.
Mr Sikora, an estate agent, said: ‘I’m not British so for me, I was neutral.
‘It was a great match and of course, I’m sad for Andy Murray because he’s a fantastic player, one of the best of the world, of all time, but John Isner made an incredible match with his biggest serve ever too.
‘So what can Andy Murray do with this? It’s very very difficult to play John Isner.’
He added that he was ‘a little bit surprised’ about the early knockouts of Serena Williams, Murray and Raducanu but highlighted the US player’s age and the injuries beleaguering the British stars.
Raducanu waved goodbye to the SW19 faithful in her second Wimbledon exit – anticipating many more returns for the teen
Wearing her trademark Tiffany earrings, the US Open champion, 19, was back in action against Garcia after a first round win
Emma Raducanu’s mother Renee Zhang watched on as her starlet daughter’s struggled after her US Open win carried on
Emma Raducanu was met with cheers and applause as she stepped onto Centre Court at Wimbledon this afternoon for her second round match with Caroline Garcia – but a number of empty seats still remained
Wearing her trademark Tiffany earrings, the US Open Champion, 19, was back in action after breezing past Alison Van Uytvanck on Monday
Britain’s Emma Raducanu in action during her second round match against France’s Caroline Garcia
Emma Raducanu during her second round match Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 3, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The teenager got off to a rocky start, losing the first set 3-6 and then saw the second set finish with the same scoreline – sending her out in her second match on Centre Court.
Short of matches after three weeks out with a side strain, Raducanu was simply unable to find the level required to match Frenchwoman Garcia across the 86-minute contest.
Raducanu was one of nine British players – a record number – who made it through to the second round but could not reach the last 32.
Living up to the hype has proved impossible for the 19-year-old so far and, a year after rocketing to stardom with a run to the fourth round and then achieving the unthinkable in New York, she slipped to a meek 6-3 6-3 loss to France’s Caroline Garcia on Centre Court.
It was undoubtedly an anti-climax but hardly surprising given the results Raducanu has had since her US Open triumph and, most significantly, the side strain that severely disrupted her preparations.
‘I didn’t feel anything out there,’ the British number one said of the injury. ‘I declared myself fully fit when I walked out onto the court on the first day.
‘But I’ve played seven hours of tennis in a month. To even compete with these girls at this level and win a round I think is a pretty good achievement.
‘Obviously it’s tough to lose any match but I think that Caroline played a great match. She is a great player. I struggled to find a way through her today.
‘But it’s OK because, coming into this, I didn’t really have many expectations of myself. Playing on Centre Court again was a really positive experience for me.’
Raducanu’s mantra this tournament has very much been that, whatever she achieved last year, she remains a relative novice with everything to gain simply from experiencing these environments.
Her French opponent is ranked down at 55 but, having been tipped as a future world number one by Andy Murray as a teenager, has been as high as number four.
She struggled in the first round against Britain’s Yuriko Miyazaki but had arrived late from Germany, where she won a tournament on grass at the weekend.
Garcia had promised to be aggressive and she was as good as her word, stepping into the court on Raducanu’s second serve in particular and looking to take control with her backhand.
Blustery conditions caused issues for both players but it was Garcia who was able to hit through them and, although Raducanu battled as hard as she could to stay in contention, she was ultimately outplayed.
‘I think it was first-strike tennis,’ said Raducanu. ‘She served really well today. I didn’t really have any looks, I felt, many second serves. Even when I did, they were tricky ones with the wind holding them up. I just didn’t have enough ball speed today.’
Disappointment must be tempered by the knowledge Raducanu has many more chances to challenge for the latter stages at Wimbledon in the future, and her thoughts will now turn to the build-up to the defence of her title in New York later in the summer.
That will begin at the Citi Open in Washington at the beginning of August and should also take in the big WTA Tour events in Toronto and Cincinnati – if Raducanu can avoid any more physical niggles.
The teenager said: ‘I think that since the French Open the biggest thing has been my time on court has been extremely minimal. That’s obviously something I’m going to be focusing on, getting my body ready, just play tennis basically.
‘Going back to New York, it’s going to be cool because I have got a lot of experiences playing on big courts, playing with people in the stadium, playing with the spotlight on you.
‘I don’t mind that. For me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.’
Despite being arguably the star attraction of the tournament, crowds have stayed sparser than usual in SW19 due to coronavirus fears and wet weather.
Some 36,603 fans attended the first day while 39,450 came on the second.
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) organisers had expected 42,000 tickets to be sold daily.
With blustery conditions causing problems for both players, Raducanu battled back from losing the opening two games, but was outhit by Garcia as the 28-year-old reeled off three games in a row.
A clever second serve from Raducanu saved a set point at 2-5 but Garcia, who can be a wobbly closer, made no mistake on her own delivery.
Both women left the court for a bathroom break as the stadium, which had been a long way short of capacity, belatedly filled up.
Raducanu held serve twice to start the second set but was in trouble as soon as Garcia got into any rally, the Frenchwoman’s weight of shot simply superior to that of her much younger opponent.
This year marks the return to full capacity for the first time since 2019 amid cancellation in 2020 due to coronavirus and a 50% limit in 2021.
Coronavirus has taken out last year’s runner-up and one of the favourites for this year’s men’s title, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, and Croatian former finalist Marin Cilic.
Mark Wyatt, 32, a fitness manager based in Wanstead, east London, said people were still cautious about returning to his gym due to coronavirus and he believed the same worries were affecting the Wimbledon turnout.
He said: ‘Wimbledon was reaching its peak in 2019 after ‘Murray mania’ and people really getting into tennis, and I think it’s taken a hit with numbers this year, and the weather not being quite as hot as it has been is maybe a reason.
‘It’s definitely not as busy as it was previously. I think Covid would put some people off for sure.
‘You’ve had people not going to sporting events, getting out of (the) habit, isolating a lot, not necessarily having social contact.’
Mr Wyatt, who was queueing for premium on-the-day tickets on Wednesday morning with his father David Wyatt, 68, pointed out that many empty seats were in the corporate sections of the stands, leaving less space for ‘true tennis fans’.
The gym trainer said: ‘I do feel that if they didn’t get quite as many corporate tickets or giving these tickets to these associations and then people are taking them or turning up, we’d get better atmospheres for these big players, which would help.’
Britain’s Emma Raducanu falls during her second round match against France’s Caroline Garcia
Emma Raducanu during her second round match Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 3, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Emma Raducanu of Britain eats a banana during a break in the women’s second round match against Caroline Garcia
Britain’s Emma Raducanu during her second round match against France’s Caroline Garcia
His father, a retired teacher, added: ‘When we’ve occasionally had a wet Sunday play, and they just sold tickets to everybody and it was the real tennis fans that turned up, there were no corporate people at all and it was a totally different atmosphere.’
Alex Woods, 34, a consultant for an advertising firm in Bristol, said he believed the cost-of-living crisis and airport chaos was also impacting ticket sales.
‘There’s obviously a few things going on at the moment which probably prohibits people coming to things like this – it’s an expensive day out,’ he told PA.
‘You’ve seen at Lord’s as well, the cricket’s not been selling out, and that’s normally guaranteed.
‘Also, it’s harder to move around, getting into this country is probably putting a few international tourists coming to Wimbledon off.
‘It’s a shame, particularly when you see the later matches – Murray the other day with a few empty seats – thinking I’d love to be there.
‘But at the same time the atmosphere is great, there’s a good amount of people here today, and obviously not being able to come to these sorts of things the last couple of years, or reduced at Wimbledon last year, I think it’s still pretty great.’
Tom Walewski, 64, who travelled from the Polish capital of Warsaw for the tournament, said seeing empty seats in Centre Court was ‘frustrating’ because ‘there are a lot of people who really want to go and see and enjoy the day’.
‘I don’t really know what the policy is regarding tickets, attendance, however, people who are queuing desperately want to go to the Centre Court, and second choice is of course Court 1,’ he said.
On Tuesday, tennis titan Serena Williams, 40, suffered a surprise defeat in her first singles match against France’s Harmony Tan – possibly marking her last Wimbledon appearance.
From sampling different sports such as motocross and ballet to being taught how to pack her bag properly with potatoes… how British No 1 Emma Raducanu’s London upbringing got her off to a flier
- Emma Raducanu wound up in one of the best locations to hone a tennis player
- Her parents ensured that she sampled plenty of different sports and activities
- Yet tennis became her overriding passion, having first picked up a racket at five
- Raducanu made an impression on former British No 1 Anne Keothavong
By Mike Dickson for the Daily Mail
It could hardly have been better for Emma Raducanu that Bromley Tennis Centre was adjacent to Newstead Wood, the selective grammar school where she had secured one of the much sought-after places.
The only child of Ian and Renee, she had wound up in one of the best locations in the country to hone a tennis player.
The Raducanus had taken a circuitous route to arrive in this commuter area on the fringes of south-east London. Ian had been brought up in Bucharest, while Renee had been born in Shenyang, a city in the north-east of China.
Emma Raducanu’s parents ensured their only child sampled plenty of different sports and activities
The only child of Ian and Renee (L), she had wound up in one of the best locations in the country to hone a tennis player
Tennis became her overriding passion, having first picked up a racket aged five
NO UMPIRES, A MANUAL SCOREBOARD AND £75 PRIZE MONEY… THE HUMBLE BEGINNING TO RADUCANU’S GRAND SLAM YEAR
The year 2021 was the one in which Emma Raducanu’s life would be turned on its head. Not that she or anyone else would have had any inkling of that, based on its first four months.
Tennis once again returned to its place on the back burner as she spent the short winter days with her head buried in her books, working towards her A-levels. With people’s lives in the UK so restricted, she made almost no concessions to her future career, bar some training runs around Bromley.
Her on-court activity at that time was pretty much zero, but as the days became longer and tennis reopened she stepped up her training.
With so little recent tennis behind her it was made known that, to be considered for wildcards into forthcoming grasscourt events, she would need to start playing matches.
So, Raducanu and new coach Nigel Sears made the decision to re-enter the competitive fray on May 20, to no fanfare whatsoever, at the three-day British Tour event at the Connaught Club in Chingford, Essex.
Along with everyone else, Raducanu dutifully paid her £25 entry fee as she set out to gain some much-needed competitive exposure after an absence of five months. Her first opponent of the year was Maddie Brooks, a 23-year-old from Norfolk who was dispatched 6–1, 6–1.
After a walkover in the quarter-finals, Raducanu faced Katherine Barnes, one year older than her and with barely any experience of the professional game. To review footage of that match is simply to marvel that one of the participants, just 112 days later, would be lifting the US Open trophy on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
A fairly staggering note is that the week before, in the British Tour event at Woking, Barnes had lost to a 12-year-old.
On the hard courts of the Connaught there were no line judges or ballkids, not even an umpire. The soon-to-be Queen of Flushing Meadows played the match in leggings, and Barnes can be seen manually inputting the points on an old-fashioned flip scoreboard by the net post.
In the first set Raducanu repeatedly double-faulted, miscued her groundstrokes and struggled with her opponent’s unorthodox, slapped forehand.
Matters improved in the second set but she was to lose the deciding ‘Champions’ tiebreak, going down 6–1, 1–6, 10–8.
It would not be unfair to say the whole thing had the feel of a parks match.
The Kent player was to depart with £75 in prize money for making the semis, around £1.8million less than she would be paid fewer than four months later in New York.
From different origins, and seeking a better life, they had met in Toronto, where their only daughter was born.
When Emma was two they moved on to work in London, Ian as a project manager in finance and Renee in the world of foreign exchange. They settled into a house in a cul-de-sac on the Orpington/Bromley borders — which, in 2021, was briefly to become Britain’s most famous semi-detached dwelling.
Around the time of Wimbledon, neighbours spoke of the well-liked, hard-working family whose youngest member had suddenly been propelled to fame by reaching the fourth round at SW19.
Before concentrating purely on tennis, they ensured that their only child sampled plenty of different sports and activities.
Ballet classes were one thing, while there were also regular trips to a converted bus garage in Streatham where she enjoyed go-karting, before graduating to motocross on two wheels. Her fondness for motor sports, especially Formula One, has stayed with her into adulthood.
Yet tennis became her overriding passion. She had first picked up a racket aged five when her parents gave the sport a try in local parks, and the first time she got her name on an honours board was when winning the Bromley Tennis Centre’s tournament for under eights at the age of six. By the age of seven she had made the final of a national winter tournament in Oxfordshire.
At a young age, Raducanu made an impression on former British No 1 Anne Keothavong.
‘Soon after I retired in 2013 I was doing my coaching qualifications and on a couple of sessions I was given Emma as my guinea pig,’ she recalls.
‘I had been told Emma was promising and it was pretty obvious why. You don’t see many kids trying to take the ball early and on the rise like she was doing. I wasn’t long off the tour and I remember thinking, ‘I’m really having to concentrate here’ when I was hitting with her.’
Some seven years later, with the world in lockdown, former Davis Cup player turned TV commentator and coach Mark Petchey was brought in to do some extra on-court work with Raducanu while her adviser — Belgian coach Philippe Dehaes — was unable to travel to the UK.
Her first appearance back on court since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic came in early July 2020 — in the week which should have seen the start of Wimbledon — when a British Tour event was going on at Roehampton. Under strict supervision, some of the country’s better prospects gathered and Raducanu was to reel off four victories and emerge the winner.
Petchey’s main memory from the event was not so much the match as what she came armed with beforehand.
‘Emma turned up with an A4 sheet of paper with all this stuff on it that was the most complicated thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t understand a lot of it,’ admits Petchey.
‘It was her gameplan in remarkable detail, complete with colour coding. I never thought anyone could take that much information with them out on court and execute it.
‘What it told you, though, was that here was somebody diligent about her pre-match preparations and how seriously she was going to take this as a career.’
Petchey enjoyed working with Raducanu, who he describes as ‘very mature for her age’. He also enjoyed working with her father, whose views on coaching were reckoned to be unconventional by many in the game.
At a young age, Raducanu made an impression on former British No 1 Anne Keothavong
Mark Petchey (L) was brought in to do some extra on-court work with Raducanu in lockdown
His pick-and-mix approach to gleaning knowledge stretched to believing that certain coaches should be chosen to work for their expertise on certain shots.
Petchey gives a fascinating insight into the unorthodox approach of Ian Raducanu when it came to instilling professional habits in his daughter. One morning she arrived for practice, and upon opening her racket bag found a large bag of potatoes inside it.
‘She was standing there pulling these potatoes out and we were just laughing about it. It was all about teaching her to pack her bag properly, which some young players can be sloppy about — that was the whole premise behind it and she understood.
‘It was like, ‘You’ve got a bag that is four kilos heavier than it was yesterday, but you haven’t even noticed it’. I thought that was smart.’
Adapted from EMMA RADUCANU: WHEN TENNIS CAME HOME by Mike Dickson, published by Hodder today at £20. © Mike Dickson 2022.
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