Published On: Sun, Jul 7th, 2024
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Emma Raducanu dreams crushed as world No.123 beats Brit at Wimbledon | Tennis | Sport


Emma Raducanu was stunned by a Kiwi qualifier on Centre Court to end British interest in the singles – and complete a nightmare weekend for the former US Open winner.

The British No.3 pulled out of the mixed doubles with Andy Murray on Saturday because of “stiffness” in her right wrist to bring an end to the Scot’s Wimbledon career.

The No.135 still took to Centre Court under the roof 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.

But the New Zealander, who has a Croatian mother and Chinese father, brought back memories of Raducanu’s fairytale 2021 success in New York by winning 6-2 5-7 6-2 in two hours and 50 minutes.

It was Sun’s first appearance on Centre Court in only her second Grand Slam but she played like a veteran as the left-hander’s aggressive tactics took control from the start of the biggest match of her career. She hit 52 winners – with Rafa Nadal-like whipped forehand causing in her deserved victory.

The 23-year-old only turned pro last year after attending the University of Texas at Austin and was already the first Kiwi to reach a Grand Slam fourth round in the Open era. She is now only the seventh Wimbledon quarter-finalist from outside the world’s top 100 in the last 40 years. She has now won seven matches here after winning three in qualifying and will now face Donna Vekic for a place in the semi-finals.

Raducanu won her second Grand Slam at the US Open without dropping a set after coming through qualifying and winning 10 matches. Raducanu made a nervy start as she fell 0-40 behind in her first two service games as she was broken twice to trail 0-3 after 14 minutes. Sun’s fearless approach shocked the British No.3 and the Centre Court crowd.

Raducanu finally got on the board by breaking to trail and then holding serve for the only time in the set to trail 2-3. But Sun stayed on course and with Raducanu attempting to play moonballs, she took her third breakpoint at 4-2 by attacking the high ball and putting away a swinging forehand volley.

She took her first set point after only 39 minutes when Raducanu hit a forehand pass long. It was the first set the Bromley-based star had lost in the tournament after starting with three straight sets wins.

At 1-1 second set, Sun hit the lines twice with booming shots but just missed a high volley on break point and Raducanu gave a fist pump after the hold. The British No.3 then had two break point chances in the next game but made two backhand service return errors – one into the bottom of the net and the other hooked into the tramlines.

At 3-3, Raducanu saved two break points with two big forehands and roared “C’mon” to the crowd when Sun found the net with a backhand down the line to hold. And she drew the match level after one hour and 52 minutes by taking her second set point when Sun flew a backhand long.

But in only the third point of the deciding set, Raducanu slipped stretching for a shot deep in her forehand corner and needed an on-court medical timeout for treatment to her left leg. She underwent surgery on her left ankle in May last year. Sun immediately broke and broke the Raducanu serve for a fifth and final time when the British No.3 served her second double fault to lead 5-2 and serve for the match.

Raducanu saved a first match point with a backhand crosscourt winner. But the Kiwi, who was world No.263 this time last year, took her second when Raducanu fired a forehand return long.

Raducanu had been bidding to become only the seventh British woman to reach the quarter-finals in the Open era after Jo Durie, Ann Jones, Jo Konta, Virginia Wade and Winnie Woolridge. At the age of 21 years and 243 days old, she would have become the second woman after Barker (in 1976 and 1977) to reach the last eight here aged 21 or under.



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