Wimbledon 2024: Dominant Emma Raducanu cruises past ninth seed Maria Sakkari to reach fourth round

Wimbledon 2024: Dominant Emma Raducanu cruises past ninth seed Maria Sakkari to reach fourth round

Can it be said that a 21-year-old is rolling back the years?

No, would normally be the answer, that phrase predominantly reserved for the likes of Andy Murray bounding around late in their career to provide a reminder of enduring class.

But Emma Raducanu is giving it a good go. There is a familiar feeling to her performances and results, three years on from when she followed a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon with that extraordinary run to the US Open title at Flushing Meadows.

To suggest a repeat of the latter is even on the cards later this summer would be premature in the extreme, but the former has now been matched after a sensational performance to beat ninth seed Maria Sakkari 6-3 6-2 under the Centre Court roof. Just five games dropped, as was also the case against Sakkari in their US Open semi-final clash in 2021. Raducanu will next face qualifier Lulu Sun, with a potential quarter-final against Donna Vekic or Paula Badosa beyond that.

“I think today was really up there with the most fun I have had on a tennis court, I really enjoyed every single moment,” Raducanu said.

“I was telling myself you don't know how many times you are going to get the chance in your life to play in front of a full Centre Court so I'm really grateful for the support.”

Centre Court appearances are not going to be in short supply, on current form. This was a first return to the third round of a Grand Slam since the summer of 2021, and Raducanu was at near enough her best. The full repertoire of stunning backhand returns, forehand winners down the line and regular shouts of self-encouragement on display.

She broke in the opening game of the match to immediately stamp her authority, and then saved two break points in the following game. Those were the first of seven opportunities that came Sakkari’s way throughout the match, all of which were staved off by Raducanu.

The Briton had the chance to move a double break up when she got to 0-40, returns dropped at the feet of Sakkari’s feet a constant theme, but the seed battled to hold and keep herself in touch at 3-2 down.

The pressure was relentless, though, and it eventually told. At full stretch Raducanu hopefully lobbed a ball up in the air and watched it sail over Sakkari and land bang on the baseline, giving her that insurance break in outrageous fashion. That was 5-2 and the set soon followed, Raducanu needing just one chance.

Sakkari’s forehand was increasingly letting her down, as the frustrated glares to her box grew in number, and more errors gifted Raducanu the break in the third game of the second set. Despite the relatively one-sided scoreline, there were plenty of tight games, even more long rallies, but they were nearly all being won by Raducanu.

Holds were exchanged until Sakkari stepped up to serve at 5-3, and Raducanu brought up a first match point with a sublime backhand return. That was saved, but a Sakkari double fault soon brought another and Raducanu’s summer fun continued.