‘To be here at Wimbledon is unbelievable, it’s surreal,’ says Emma Raducanu after debut win

Emma Raducanu was in shock at her journey from the exam hall to Wimbledon after marking her debut at the All England Club with victory over Vitalia Diatchenko.

Like Jack Draper, who also seized his moment to make a name for himself against Novak Djokovic on Monday, Raducanu has long been marked out as a potential star of the future.

And the 18-year-old set about proving why, recovering from 4-1 down in the opening set to defeat qualifier Diatchenko, who is ranked nearly 200 places higher, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.

It was about as good a draw as Raducanu could have had but the Kent teenager, whose progress into the senior ranks has been stalled by Covid and the fact she stayed in school, still went into the match as a clear underdog.

Raducanu said: “I had my final A-level examinations in April, so I was actually sitting for an exam two months ago. So now to be here at Wimbledon is unbelievable, it’s surreal.

“I had to actually double check the score at the end of the match. I thought it was a first serve maybe. I’m just really pleased to be into the second round. I feel like I’m playing and everything is just a bonus to me right now. I’m just really enjoying myself, just taking the moment in really.

“The support I had today was quite incredible. They definitely pushed me through some of the tough moments.”

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Raducanu, who was born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother before moving to the UK aged two, took A-levels in maths and economics, and she added: “It’s definitely helped keeping my mind active.

“I find it’s actually helped me with my on-court career as well in the way that I can absorb a lot of information. I feel that on court I’m more tactically astute than some others.”

Her nerves showed with four double faults in her first service game, and it was Diatchenko who came out on top of a series of long games to lead 4-1.

Raducanu had to save break points to avoid going 5-1 down, and also trailed 5-3, but she has a mature head on her shoulders and she did not panic, pulling level and then playing the better tie-break.

The first set took 83 minutes and Raducanu, ranked down at 338, exploited Diatchenko’s disappointment at losing it by quickly moving ahead in the second.

Raducanu was initially only given a qualifying wild card but that was upgraded after she put in strong performances on the grass in Nottingham, and the decision was fully vindicated as the teenager surged across the line.

She said: “It was just a nervy experience in the beginning, playing your first main draw grand slam match at Wimbledon. A lot of people there, you didn’t want to let them down.

“I’m just really happy that I managed to find a way through the tough moments, then I settled in and started playing more relaxed.”

In the second round Raducanu, who is the only British woman left in the singles draw, will take on former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova.

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