WIMBLEDON, England – Under pressure? You must be joking.
Emma Raducanu, who won last year’s U.S. Open at the age of 18, hasn’t gotten past the second round at a Grand Slam tournament since then.
She lost to Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-3 on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
“There’s no pressure. Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19. Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam,” the 19-year-old British player said. “Yes, I have had attention. But I’m a Slam champion, so no one’s going to take that away from me. Yeah, if anything, the pressure is on those who haven’t done that.”
The 10th-seeded Raducanu has dealt with minor injuries recently, including a side strain that forced her to retire from a match at the Nottingham Open two weeks ago. She said she didn’t feel any pain but acknowledged being rusty after playing only “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,” she said.
Raducanu beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4 in the first round – also in the main stadium – but ran into a player on a roll on Wednesday. Garcia, who has been ranked as high as No. 4, extended her winning streak to seven matches, which includes the Bad Homburg title in Germany last week for her first tournament win in three years.
“I struggled to find a way through her today,” Raducanu said. “But it’s OK because coming into this I didn’t really have many expectations of myself. Playing on Centre Court again was, again, a really positive experience for me. So, yeah, I can take it going forwards.”
Forward is Flushing Meadows, where last September she went from qualifier to major champion by beating Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
“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,” Raducanu said. “I don’t mind that. I mean, for me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.”
In her Grand Slam debut at the All England Club last year, Raducanu reached the fourth round as a wild-card entry. She followed up her U.S. Open title with second-round exits at the next two Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open and the French Open.
Raducanu had beaten Garcia in three sets at Indian Wells this year in their only other head-to-head match.
“Obviously I learn a little bit some stuff when I played against her in the U.S. and tried to learn from my loss and makes things better,” the 28-year-old Frenchwoman said. “It was different surface today, so it’s very different.”
It’s also easier now to prepare for Raducanu, Garcia said, compared to a year ago when “pretty much no one knew her.”