Raducanu inspired by England's Euro campaign as she 'wins ugly' at Wimbledon

Raducanu joins fellow Brits Lily Miyazaki and Sonny Kartal in All England Club second round

Tenis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Londres, Gran Bretaña - 1 de julio de 2024 La británica Emma Raducanu celebra la victoria en su partido de primera ronda contra la mexicana Renata Zarazua REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu advanced to the second round of Wimbledon with a 7-6 6-3 win on Centre Court (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)

By James Toney at Wimbledon

In the close quarters combat sport of Grand Slam tennis, winning ugly has become a mantra and Emma Raducanu is certainly happy to take success however unattractive it might be.

Raducanu, back at Wimbledon after many months of injury travails, was all smiles as she booked her second round place with a straight sets but far from straightforward 7-6 6-3 Centre Court win over Mexico's Renata Zarazua.

Unforced errors ultimately don't mean much if you are the right side of the scoreline and while some of her stats may cause irritation, there were certainly no complaints from the 21-year-old.

"I was nervous and I think people could see that in my tennis but I did want it took to get over the line," she said. "I watched the England game and we know winning ugly counts too. It doesn’t always need to be beautiful or perfect.

"It was a very difficult match, she just kept getting the ball back and it took a lot of strength to get over the line.

"There's a lot of emotions being on this court, nothing really compares to playing out there and in the crucial moments I needed that support too."

Raducanu's campaign had a boost before the gates opened, her scheduled opponent Ekaterina Alexandrova, the world number 22, pulling out through illness.

Zarazua had been kicking her heels as a lucky loser, following her defeat in the third round of qualifying, but quickly took advantage of her late call-up.

She looked less nervous than Raducanu in the early stages, though this was just her fourth Slam match and first Wimbledon appearance.

Realising she would perhaps struggle against the Brit's power game, she pulled off a succession of deft drop shots that had the former US Open champion scampering helplessly towards the net - a weakness future rivals will surely look to exploit.

An exchange of breaks took the first set to a tie-break, in which Raducanu found a new level to win to love, before closing out the next set more comfortably.

Raducanu might be 37 places below Zarazua in the world rankings but her class ultimately told, even if she admitted it was not a match for the highlights reel.

She will now face Belgium's power server Elise Mertens in the second round following her 2-6 6-2 6-4 win over Nao Hibino.

"You've got to give credit to her, it's not easy not being in the draw in the morning and then playing on Centre Court," she added.

"I've spent three days planning for Ekaterina and it took a bit of adjusting and finding my feet but we got the job done.

"I had a few hours notice, she's a completely different style of player to the one I'd prepared for. It's a good lesson in keeping your head together and staying calm because she had nothing to lose.

"I said I'd be over the moon if I won my first round and I really am. I'm just trying to cherish the wins because I've got no expectations results wise."

Joining Radacanu in the second round are fellow Brits Lily Miyazaki, who took less than an hour to double her prize money for the year and claim only her second win at this level, and qualifier Sonny Kartal, who shocked seed Sorana Cristea for the win of her career.

Miyazaki is a maths graduate from Oklahoma University and it was clear from the outset she had Tamara Korpatsch's number on Court 16.

The German, ranked 75 places higher, had no answer to the home player's serve, Miyazaki dropping just seven points with ball in hand and never facing a break point.

Her 6-2 6-1 win - meaning she'll leave the All England Club with a minimum £93,000 - sets up a second round meeting with 14th seed Daria Kasatkina, who showed her class on grass with a win in Eastbourne last week.

"It was so nice to get my first win at Wimbledon," said Miyazaki, who also reached the second round at last year's US Open.

"It's definitely one of the better wins of my career against a top 100 player.

"I like to play an aggressive game and put pressure on my opponents and I was really able to do that.

"I feel comfortable in these big tournaments and the crowds really get me going. It's not going to get easy, I've never played Daria before but I've watched her play a lot. If the opportunity is there to play on a big court that would be amazing."

Kartal, 22, has spent time on the sidelines with a heart condition following an illness last year and is supported by the Lexus-sponsored LTA Pro Scholarship Programme, the top scheme for developing elite players.

And it's clear that investment - and three tough matches in qualifying - was critical as she came from behind to beat the raging Romanian, winning the decisive set to love, advancing 3-6 6-3 6-0.

However, the other four Brits in action of the opening day all lost, Heather Watson going down in straight sets to her doubles partner Greet Minnen on the day it was confirmed she was selected for her fourth Olympics.

Elsewhere, Charles Broom and Arthur Fery will both reflect on chances to win their first Wimbledon match, both just the wrong side of key moments against more experienced rivals Stan Wawrinka and Daniel Altmaier. Liam Broady - who reached the third round in his last two visits here - was beaten in four sets by Botic van de Zandschulp.

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website