Wimbledon: Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon return was a letdown, as the US Open champion was knocked out in the second round by Caroline Garcia in straight sets.
Living up to the hype has proven impossible for the 19-year-old so far, and she slipped to a meek 6-3 6-3 loss on Centre Court a year after rocketing to stardom with a run to the fourth round and then accomplishing the unthinkable in New York.
Raducanu was simply unable to find the level required to match Frenchwoman Garcia across the 86-minute contest after missing three weeks due to a side strain.
Raducanu will return to the Grand Slam stage at the US Open, but she insists there will be no pressure on her to defend her title.
She said: “There’s no pressure. Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam.
“It’ll be cool to go back to New York because I have a lot of experience playing on big courts, playing with people in the stadium, and 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 unavoidable, and Raducanu’s hopes for her second-round match were boosted by her victory over Garcia in March at Indian Wells.
Caroline Garcia, who arrived late from Germany after winning a grass-court tournament the weekend before, had promised to be aggressive, and she delivered, stepping into the court on Raducanu’s second serve in particular and looking to take control with her backhand.
With blustery conditions causing issues for both players, Raducanu battled back from losing the first two games but was outhit by Garcia, who won three in a row.
Raducanu’s clever second serve saved a set point at 2-5, but Garcia, who is ranked 55th and can be a shaky closer, made no mistake with her own delivery.
Raducanu held serve twice to begin the second set but was in trouble as soon as Garcia entered a rally, the Frenchwoman’s shot weight simply being superior to that of her much younger opponent.
The crowd tried to motivate Raducanu and cheered loudly when she immediately retrieved a break to tie the match at 3-3, only for a double fault and backhand shanked into the tramlines to put Garcia ahead again, from which she pulled away to win.
Disappointment must be balanced by the knowledge that Raducanu will have many more opportunities to compete in the latter stages of Wimbledon in the future, and her thoughts will now shift to playing on 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.”
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