Raducanu faces difficult Russian opponent in first round of Wimbledon

Raducanu ready for tough Wimbledon start with Murray in race against time

Raducanu faces a tough Russian opponent in the first round while Jannik Sinner starts a major as world No. 1 for the first time.

Emma Raducanu has never experienced a calm Wimbledon since she turned professional. In her 2021 debut, she reached the fourth round but retired due to breathing difficulties. The next year, she injured her ankle in her opening grass match at the Nottingham Open and barely made it in time. Last year, she didn’t even make it to the starting line.

However, things seem more relaxed this time for Raducanu. She returns for her third Wimbledon after months of consistent training and accumulating wins. She reached the semi-finals in Nottingham and the quarter-finals in Eastbourne, where she defeated world No. 5 Jessica Pegula for her first win over a top-10 player. Raducanu feels more settled as she heads into SW19.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year,” she said. “There’s a lot less going on. There’s a lot less stress or chaos. I’m just here to practice and play my matches. In 2022, it was a rush to see if I could even play, and last year I missed it. In 2021, I wasn’t feeling great leading up to it. This is the most settled I’ve been in a while.”

Her preparation will be crucial as she faces a tough first-round match against 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, a formidable talent well-suited to grass courts and one of only four players to defeat world No. 1 Iga Swiatek this year.

In contrast, there’s chaos around Britain’s last men’s champion, Andy Murray, who is trying to be fit for his final Wimbledon. He will decide whether to play his first-round match against Tomas Machac at the last moment.

“It’s been a tough 10 days since Queen’s [Club],” Murray said. “I had a significant back operation. I’ve been trying everything to get ready for the tournament. I’ve been practicing and played a set today. It went well, but I’m not 100% yet.”

Murray’s injury, identified as a spinal cyst, forced him to withdraw from Queen’s Club. He was advised he might be out for six to 12 weeks, but he has made remarkable progress in a week and feels he’s improving daily.

“If I keep progressing, I hope to play. I played a set today against a good player and felt fine,” Murray said. “I don’t want to go on the court and not be competitive. Time is my greatest opponent.”

Meanwhile, third seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will open on Centre Court against Estonian qualifier Mark Lajal, ranked No. 262.

Significant attention will be on Aryna Sabalenka, the women’s third seed, who is struggling with a shoulder injury and has done minimal serving. Coco Gauff, the US Open champion and second seed, returns on Centre Court a year after her first-round loss.

Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens, who once played a contentious semi-final at the 2013 Australian Open, will battle in the first round.

By the end of the first day, one of the most exciting early-round matches could be set, as top seed Jannik Sinner and 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini might face each other in the second round.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *