Emma Raducanu suffered a nightmare weekend in SW19 by following her late withdrawal from the mixed doubles with an earlier-than-expected exit from the singles.

But the former US Open champion vehemently defended her controversial decision to end Andy Murray’s Wimbledon career on Saturday because of “a bit of stiff wrist”. The British No.3 insisted: “I stand by the decision.”

Judy Murray called the decision “astonishing” though later claimed she had been referring to the scheduling, which Raducanu echoed with her six-word response: “I’m sure she didn’t mean it.”

The online furore only increased the pressure on the world No.135 as he took to Centre Court against world No.123 Lulu Sun – the first time a wildcard and a qualifier have met in the women’s fourth round here in the Open era.

Raducanu had beaten two top-10 players during his grasscourt season, including world No.9 Maria Sakkari in the last round. And she was the hot favourite to reach the quarter-finals of her home Grand Slam for the first time.

But she never looked right from the start under the roof. And Kiwi Sun, who had the sponsor’s logo “Astonish” writ large on her kit, deservedly won 6-2 5-7 6-2 in two hours and 50 minutes.

And just like during her shock defeat, Raducanu had to play defence in her post-match press conference to justify her mixed doubles withdrawal. The Bromley-based star, who also revealed she had been suffering from a stiff back since Saturday, said: “It was a very difficult decision. Of course, I didn’t want to take his last match away from him. But at the end of the day I think a lot of the players in a similar situation would have done the same thing, prioritising their body. I still stand by making the right call.

“I don’t think it was a mistake to accept the invitation because I was feeling fine, then yesterday morning just woke up with stiffness. Obviously disappointed because it’s his last match. But, yeah, what a champion. I think that hopefully he’ll play in the Olympics and have another farewell there.”

But the British No.3 did not start her match yesterday like she meant it. She was broken in her first two service games as aggressive Sun played like the veteran on her Centre Court debut.

Raducanu needed treatment on her left knee after a fall in the third set but the real story of this match was her timid approach and Sun’s fearless play. She hit 52 winners – with Rafael Nadal-like whipped forehand hurting Raducanu more than her slip on the grass.

The Kiwi is a woman of the world like Raducanu and also speaks three languages. She has a Croatian mother and Chinese father – and now a German-English step-father – and was born in the New Zealand town of Te Anau.

“Very small town,” she laughed. “Practically more sheep and deer than people.”

Asked about her similarities with Raducanu, she said: “There’s a lot of, I think, half-Chinese people out there in the world.”

She also shares the 2021 US Open champion’s ability to come through qualifying and make a huge impact at her second Grand Slam.

Asked about her aggressive grasscourt play – where she won 23 out of 28 points at the net – she explained; “I think just watching the professionals growing up. For example, (Roger) Federer, of course, coming towards the net, and I watched Steffi Graf versus Martina Navratilova on YouTube.”


Source link