Wimbledon: Emma Raducanu loses to Caroline Garcia at All England Club
Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon return proved to be an anti-climax as the US Open champion exited in the second round with a straight-sets defeat by Caroline Garcia.
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 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 will next step out on the Grand Slam stage at the US Open, but Raducanu insists there will be no pressure ahead of her title defence.
“There’s no pressure. Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam.
“Going back to New York, it’s going to be cool because I have got a lot of experience 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.”
Expectations for a Grand Slam champion are inescapable and hopes for her second-round match were boosted by Raducanu having won her only previous clash against Garcia at Indian Wells in March.
Garcia, who arrived late from Germany, where she won a tournament on grass at the weekend, 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.
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 is ranked down at 55 and can be a wobbly closer, made no mistake on her own delivery.
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.
The crowd tried to inspire Raducanu and cheered heartily when she immediately retrieved a break to level at 3-3 only for a double fault and backhand shanked into the tramlines to put Garcia ahead again, from where she pulled away to clinch victory.
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 playing on the American hard-courts.
“I was preparing for this match really well,” Garcia said of her first appearance on Centre Court.
“Emma is a huge player and in her home tournament and she proved she can do very well on the big stage. It’s fair that they support Emma and of course is a great memory for me.”