Emma Raducanu eager for Wimbledon return despite lack of ranking points

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<span>Photograph: John Walton/PA</span>
Photograph: John Walton/PA

Emma Raducanu said she has no problem with competing at Wimbledon despite the WTA revoking the tournament’s ranking points after it banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing this year.

“I know that it was a really tough decision,” said Raducanu. “But for me, I personally will play whatever. I have a lot of points coming off from Wimbledon. But for me it doesn’t really matter whatever the situation is, I am here to play and I will play. If that means I cannot defend my points then so be it. But I just enjoy competing.”

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Wimbledon was the scene of Raducanu’s breakthrough last year when she reached the fourth round as a wild card and burst into the spotlight for the first time. Her Wimbledon points currently make up the second highest points on her ranking and, with her US Open title defence edging closer, not being able to defend them could significantly affect her ranking in September.

“I would have loved the opportunity to defend points that are coming off,” she said. “But I am just focused on what I am here to do. I am here to play tennis. You know I don’t want to get involved because it is not my place at all. I am sure that there have been many discussions and it wasn’t an easy decision at all. I think that I am really again still looking forward to playing at the championships in front of a home crowd.”

The Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk [pictured] has criticised the WTA players' council on Tuesday for failing to consult Ukrainian players on the decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points over their ban on Russian and Belarusian players at this year's event.

The Kyiv-born player also attacked the 'ridiculous' inclusion of Belarus' Victoria Azarenka as a council member, and claimed at least 80% of the players 'had nothing to do with the decision'. The 19-year-old Kostyuk has said she fully supports Wimbledon's decision in the wake of Russia's invasion of her home country.

'None of the players' representatives contacted me,' Kostyuk told Reuters. 'None of them asked about my opinion, what I think. It's like Ukrainian players don't exist,' she added.

'I've been trying to be as vocal as possible but you feel hopeless most of the time about the situation. I'm still 19. What can I say? It's not easy.' Kostyuk is ranked No 58 in the world, currently the third-highest ranked Ukrainian on the WTA Tour. Reuters

Raducanu, 19, also said that she no longer reads any social media, ignoring the surrounding noise as she focuses on her tennis. She stopped doing so as early as last August before her US Open triumph.

“I did it proactively because, at the US Open, I had no idea of anything that was going to follow,” said Raducanu. “It is some great advice, to be honest, to not check your comments ever. I definitely love sharing with my fans and the people who follow me and the insights into my life. Not just what they see out there in the press or news maybe. So, I think I use that to share but then I also separate [myself].”

Raducanu in action at Wimbledon last year
Raducanu in action at Wimbledon last year. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

After her gritty 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 win over 17-year-old Linda Noskova, Raducanu will play her second-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday. Raducanu, the 12th seed, faced Sasnovich in her first match after her US Open triumph at Indian Wells last October, losing 6-2, 6-4.

Sasnovich is an aggressive, flat ball-striker who has enjoyed a positive season so far, rising from outside of the top 100 at the beginning of the year to her current ranking of 47th. Although she is most at home on faster surfaces, at 28 years old, and four years since she reached her career-high ranking of 30, she is a seasoned professional and a tough opponent.

The two other British seeds in Paris are also in search of a place in the third round. Cameron Norrie, seeded 10th, will face the resilient qualifier Jason Kubler in a match that he will be heavily favoured to win. Norrie won his fourth title last week in Lyon and, having had minimal time to adjust to the conditions, a day off will be extremely welcome.

Two days after marking his 32nd birthday with his first ever win at the French Open, demonstrating impressive composure as he navigated a potentially tricky first-round opponent in Francisco Cerúndolo of Argentina, Dan Evans will face another tough unseeded player in Sweden’s Mikael Ymer. Evans, the 29th seed, will be attempting to complete his set of reaching at least the third round at all the grand slam tournaments.

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