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Emma Raducanu knocked out in straight sets on Centre Court
Caroline Garcia too strong and ruthless for the British No 1
Raducanu revealed she's played just "seven hours of tennis in a month"
In the curious lingua franca used on the tennis tour, the word “routine” becomes a verb. Example: on Wednesday, Emma Raducanu got “routined” by the former world No4 Caroline Garcia.
The phrase is used when a superior player has brushed aside a pretender who simply didn’t measure up to the same standard. Sadly for British tennis-lovers, that was the case on Centre Court. Raducanu had very little penetration on her strokes, and no apparent plan for making up the obvious power gap against her more aggressive opponent.
The stats behind Garcia’s 6-3, 6-3 victory – which occupied only 86 minutes – are damning. Raducanu was broken no fewer than five times in her nine service games. She managed a paltry total of 12 clean winners, just four of which came on her weaker forehand side. And she went to the net only twice in the entire match, preferring to play identikit baseline rallies even though she was being duffed up with predictable regularity.
For Garcia, who had arrived full of confidence after winning a title in Bad Homberg last week, this was the sort of match-up you dream of: an opponent who serves up stacks of neutral balls for you to feast on. She must have felt as if she were enjoying a gentle practice session against a ball machine.
The data on Garcia suggests that you should avoid her cross-court backhand wherever possible. Make her hit up the middle of the court if you have to. Because if you leave the ball in that left-hand corner without rushing her, she will lean on the ball with her powerful double-hander and send it scudding deep and dangerously into your own territory.
In cricketing terms, Garcia is the equivalent of a batsman who likes to hook and pull. And Raducanu kept feeding those shots, like a medium-pacer who thinks – without any supporting evidence – that they can dish out the chin music.
The signs were ominous as soon as Raducanu emerged on a blustery day. During her pre-match warm-up, she immediately shanked two of her earliest groundstrokes off the frame of her racket. Asked afterwards why she hadn’t bothered to practice her volleys and overheads in the traditional style, she replied “The first few balls, it was really windy and I just wanted to get a bit more of a feel from the back.”
Raducanu has been short of ideal preparation because of the side strain that she suffered in Nottingham three weeks ago, and there were signs of weariness in her serve speeds, which were averaging only 95mph on her first delivery by the end.
“It was first-strike tennis,” said Raducanu afterwards. “She served really well today. I didn't really have any looks, I felt, or many second serves. Even when I did, they were tricky ones with the wind holding them up.
“I think that serving-wise, my ball speed was just lower in general. I don't know. Maybe it was the conditions. But, yeah, I just didn't have enough ball speed today.”
Asked if she was still feeling any physical after-effects from her injury, Raducanu replied “I didn't feel anything out there. I declared myself fully fit when I walked out onto the court on the first day. But I've played 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.
“Since the French Open, the biggest thing has been my time on court has been extremely minimal. I mean, I really did not train very much. That's due to different sort of niggles and things that have been lingering around. That's obviously something I'm going to be focusing on.”
Although the crowd tried to lift their golden girl – with one fan calling out “Pretend we’re in New York!” – there was a strangely flat feeling around Centre Court. Against Alison Van Uytvanck on Monday, there had been plenty of nervous energy, stemming from a feeling that this was a winnable match. But as soon as Garcia broke emphatically in the second game, closing it out with a scorching backhand return winner, most of the more knowledgeable spectators could see that Raducanu was outmatched.
With that free-swinging return, which fizzed off the baseline and had to be confirmed via Hawk-Eye, Garcia put down a marker from the start. This was supposed to be Raducanu’s own strength. During her hot streak last summer, she would often set off on early, morale-shattering rampages with the help of intimidatory returns of serve. On Wednesday, though, she never established any pattern of attack.
What has gone wrong since the US Open? Well, Raducanu was always going to struggle with her sudden elevation to superstar status. She has also spent much of her the last nine months struggling with various ailments and minor injuries. But if there is one obvious red flag, it is her forehand. Any biomechanical expert will tell you that it has regressed substantially since she enjoyed such success last summer, probably as a result of all the different inputs she has received in almost a full season of coaching disruption.
If Raducanu is to be more than just a one-hit wonder, she needs to address that issue with several weeks of sustained hard work alongside someone she trusts. Yes, she is athletic and strong-minded. Yes, she is still good enough to pick up points on the WTA Tour, where her results this year place her at a moderate but hardly disastrous 64th in the world.
But trying to navigate your way through a grand-slam match with a vanilla forehand is like driving a racing car with a missing gear or a damaged front wing. No matter how ambitious, dedicated or fearless you are, you won’t be spending much time on the podium.
Emma Raducanu exits Wimbledon, as it happened:
An early exit for Raducanu but there is still plenty of British interest at Wimbledon.
Chiefly Andy Murray, who has just lost the first set to John Isner 6-4. You can follow that match here and recap Raducanu's defeat below.
Raducanu's next tournament
The next time we are expected to see Raducanu is the Citi Open in Washington.
The event starts in 33 days on August 1 and Raducanu is one of the star attractions alongside the likes of Leylah Fernandez, Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin, who won the 2020 Australian Open.
'None of this matters' - 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli
Speaking on 5 Live, Bartoli felt Raducanu's serve wasn’t strong enough to keep Garcia off. Looking forward she is concerned about the upcoming US Open experience for the 19-year-old and thinks that could be an even more intense process coming back as defending champion.
I would say what I’ve said for the last 8 months. None of this matters. In two years, if she loses heavily in the second round I’ll be concerned for her progress. But until then it’s about building an athlete that can withstand the level she is now playing at.
Results are really not that important in the meantime. They just need to be good enough to enable her to complete that process.
What next for Raducanu?
In my opinion she needs a few weeks off to fully recover from the side strain that impacted her build-up.
Get back on the practise court and work long and hard on her serve and forehand which have been fallible all year.
As Raducaanu walked off the court she acknowledged the crowd just once with a wave despite the applause she received.
The disappointment for the 19-year-old was clear.
'A reality check for Emma' - Tim Henman
It's all a learning curve but this is a bit of a reality check for Emma. There are a lot of very good players on the women's tour and Emma is learning her trade.
She will go and lick her wounds and understand where she has to improve.
Raducanu's struggles analysed
3 double faults, just 19/42 points won on her first serve, serve broken 5 times, just 12 winners.
You just aren't going to win at this level with numbers like those.
I was really preparing this match really well. Emma is a huge player and in her home tournament and she proved she can do very well on the bug stage. I really enjoyed playing on Centre Court, it was my first time and very special.
I am a French player so I know how it is in Roland Garros. It's fair that they support Emma and of course it a great memory for me and as always it is a lot of respect."
The winning moment for Garcia
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 29, 2022
Raducanu 3-6, 3-6 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu forehand into the net, 0-15. And another, 0-30. Raducanu drop shot, Garcia gets it over but Raducanu flicks a backhand cross court winner into the open court.
Garcia forehand return into the net, 30-30. Deep backhand by Garcia and Raducanu nets, match point. GAME>SET>MATCH GARCIA.
Another blistering backhand winner by Garcia to win the match. She was too good today.
Raducanu* 3-6, 3-5 Garcia (*denotes next server)
'Come on, show her what you are all about' is the cry from the crowd for Raducanu.
Garcia nets a backhand, 15-30. Garcia ace, 30-30. Deep approach shot by Garcia but Raducanu nets the forehand pass, 40-30. Deuce as Garcia sprays a backhand wide.
Blistering forehand winner down the line by Garcia. Great serve down the T and Garcia holds.
Raducanu must hold next to stay in the tournament.
Raducanu 3-6, 3-4 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Deep backhand by Garcia and Raducanu nets, 15-30. Another deep return by Garcia and she then puts away the mid court forehand, two break point.
Raducanu saves the first. Huge cheers as she saves the second by staying in the rally and Garcia nets a backhand.
An ugly double fault by Raducanu, third break point. Raducanu frames a backhand wide and Garcia breaks again.
Ominous times now for Raducanu.
Raducanu* 3-6, 3-3 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Raducanu forehand winner to start the game, 0-15. Raducanu then steps in and hits an excellent backhand return winner, 0-30. Much better.
Garcia's first serve bails her out of trouble again, 30-30. Garcia double fault. Is she feeling the pressure? Break point Raducanu.
Garcia forehand into the tramlines and Raducanu does break back. Great response. Now she needs to hold.
Raducanu 3-6, 2-3 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
A fizzing forehand return by Garcia beats Raducanu, 0-15. Garcia then comes out on top after an entertaining rally as she flicks a backhand into the open court, 0-30. Garcia volley winner, 15-40. Two break points.
Raducanu forehand into the tramlines. Garcia breaks again. The Frenchwoman has had too much power today.
Raducanu* 3-6, 2-2 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Groans from the crowd as a backhand by Raducanu flies wide and allows Garcia to hold easily.
Raducanu 3-6, 2-1 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu's most comfortable service game of the match as she holds to love.
Raducanu* 3-6, 1-1 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Centre Court roars as Raducanu earns a break point when she flicks a cross-court backhand for a winner, 30-40.
Saved by Garcia when Raducanu nets an attempted forehand pass. Garcia finds her first serve just in time to hold.
Second Set: Raducanu 3-6, 1-0 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Both players leave the court ahead of set two. Deep Garcia return but Raducanu gets down low and lifts a backhand winner into the open court.
Garcia then responds with a forehand winner, 30-30. Relief for Raducanu as Garcia's backhand just misses the baseline, 40-30.
A series of great backhands by Garcia and Raducanu miscues one of her own, deuce.
Vital hold for Raducanu secured when she lobs Garcia and the Frenchwoman nets an overhead.
Raducanu* 3-6 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Excellent first serve by Garcia and Raducanu fails to return it, 30-0. Garcia backhand long, 30-15.
Rally of the match as both players take turns to go on the attack but Garcia comes out on top to bring up two set points.
Great defence by Garcia and she flicks a backhand pass beyond Raducanu to win the set. Uphill task now for the British No 1.
Raducanu 3-5 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Garcia shanks a return and a fan in the crowd catches the ball while holding a beer in his other hand, very impressive.
Raducanu double fault, 30-30. She responds by finding her first serve which is unreturned, 40-30.
Garcia goes after the Raducanu second serve with a deep return then finishes with a volley winner, deuce.
Raducanu nets a backhand, set point Garcia. Saved by Raducanu with a better second serve down the T.
And she holds when Garcia's forehand return flies wide. Big game coming up now.
Raducanu* 2-5 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Back-to-back first serves by Garcia and Raducanu doesn't get either return in, 30-0.
But Raducanu pulls it back to 30-30 when Garcia goes long with a forehand. Garcia gets Raducanu on the stretch and the US Open champ nets.
And Garcia holds when Raducanu's return drifts long.
Raducanu 2-4 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu is finding her rhythm on serve and in the rallies now. It is also quite windy on Centre.
A slip by Raducanu as Garcia hits a forehand back behind her, 30-30. She gets up slowly but is able to continue.
Garcia volley winner, break point. Deep Garcia return and Raducanu can only net her reply. The Brit is broken again.
Raducanu* 2-3 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Class from Garcia as she wrong foots Raducanu with an inside out forehand. And she holds with a big first serve down the T.
Raducanu 2-2 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Much better service game by Raducanu as she races to 40-0. Garcia drills a backhand return at the feet of Raducanu and draws the error.
Raducanu double fault, 40-30. Garcia backhand return wide. The spectator to my left stands and applauds.
Raducanu* 1-2 Garcia (*denotes next server)
Garcia flicks a forehand into the tramlines, 15-30. Garcia backhand into the net, 30-40. Break point.
Raducanu fails to return Garcia's wide serve, deuce. Garcia nets a high backhand volley, second break point.
Garcia nets a forehand and Raducanu immediately breaks back. Could be a theme of the match.
Raducanu 0-2 Garcia* (*denotes next server)
Deep return catches out Raducanu, 15-30. Volley winner by Garcia, 15-40.
Garcia hits a backhand return that is called out, the umpire overrules and Raducanu challenges. However, Hawkeye confirms the ball was inside the baseline. Bad call by the line judge. Bad start by Raducanu.
First Set: Emma Raducanu* 0-1 Caroline Garcia (*denotes next server)
Double fault by Garcia on the opening point. Then Raducanu drills a backhand winner down the line, 0-30.
Garcia attacks the net and Raducanu's defensive backhand drifts wide. Raducanu return into the net, 30-30.
Garcia forehand winner into the corner, very nice, 40-30. Garcia backhand winner and she holds.
A statement of intent from the Frenchwoman.
A couple of shanks by Raducanu, hopefully she is saving her best shots for the match!
Here we go!
Standing ovation for Raducanu as she walks onto court for her match with Garcia. Centre Court is filing up nicely.
Emma Raducanu proves queen of the big occasion in taking Wimbledon Centre Court by storm
Oliver Brown was at Wimbledon to watch Emma Raducanu's first-round progression earlier this week.
As Emma Raducanu strode through the double doors for her “central reveal”, as Wimbledon have loftily rechristened the players’ Centre Court entrances this year, she gave herself a few moments to grasp the grandeur of the setting.
Remarkably, for a young woman whose face adorns almost every billboard in south-west London, she had never graced tennis’s grandest citadel before.
That novelty, coupled with her side strain and halting adjustments to the grind of life on tour, had encouraged ideas that she might crumble.
Consider those theories emphatically debunked.
Raducanu says quick wins are key to Wimbledon hopes
Emma Raducanu is hoping to rediscover her grand slam efficiency at Wimbledon this year as he faces France's Caroline Garcia this afternoon.
The 19-year-old famously did not drop a set through 10 matches at the US Open having also claimed three straight-sets wins at Wimbledon.
Since then, though, Raducanu has found herself dragged into a number of long matches, and her opening-round victory over Alison Van Uytvanck on Monday was her first two-set match at a slam since the US Open final.
With her history of injury niggles and recent recovery from a side strain, avoiding staying on court too long could be crucial to Raducanu's hopes of a good run, and she will be looking for more of the same against Garcia.
"I think that it helps at slams that you get a day off in between, so I think that is pretty valuable," said Raducanu.
"I felt good out there. There were some tough moments in the second set [against Van Uytvanck] physically, but I told myself, 'Push through, if you win in two sets, then you don't have to play three'. That's the tactic."
Returning to Wimbledon completes a first full year on tour for Raducanu, whose tennis education was elevated to warp speed by her remarkable early success.
Familiarity brings positives and negatives, with Raducanu saying: "I think that it helps just with experience. Every tournament or every match you play, you learn something. It helps it all be a positive tool for the future.
"In a way, when you haven't played anyone before, it helps, too, because no one knows you, no one knows your game. That is something that I experienced in a positive way last summer because no one really knew who I was.
"Since, I think that people have definitely watched me and raised their level and raised their game and played some great tennis. I haven't necessarily played badly in a lot of the matches.
"I think that coming back here is always going to be a special tournament for me, my home tournament. I've got incredible memories. I'm just looking forward to playing here again."
Garcia, a former world number four now ranked 55th, is in good form having won a title in Germany at the weekend but needed a final-set tie-break to defeat British wild card Yuriko Miyazaki in round one.
"Caroline is a great opponent," said Raducanu. "I played her earlier on in the year in Indian Wells and it was a tricky match. She plays pretty fast tennis. I'm ready for that."