Emma Raducanu blows huge rankings chance as Lulu Sun closes in on stunning breakthrough

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu down and out at Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu down and out at Wimbledon

Emma Raducanu was eyeing up a return to the top 50 of the WTA Rankings after her impressive run at Wimbledon.

Yet it is Lulu Sun who is now knocking on the door of a major rankings breaking after she won the battle of the underdogs on Centre Court.

Raducanu was stunned by qualifier Sun as her encouraging Wimbledon run came to a disappointing end in the fourth round.

The 21-year-old had inspired hopes of more US Open-style heroics by coming through her opening three matches without dropping a set.

But she looked nervous against confident New Zealander Sun, the first qualifier to make the women’s singles quarter-finals here in 14 years, and, despite battling to force a deciding set, slumped to a 6-2 5-7 6-2 defeat.

Left-hander Sun, who had never won a Grand Slam main-draw match before this week and is now on a seven-match winning streak, racked up 52 winners compared with just 19 from Raducanu and will now face Donna Vekic for a place in the semi-finals.

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Raducanu’s three wins at Wimbledon will fire her back into the top 100 of the WTA Rankings when they are updated after Wimbledon.

Yet she would have been eyeing up a place in the top 50 if she had beaten Sun and then overcome Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals.

The good news for Raducanu is her rankings boost will ensure she will avoid the need to qualify for the US Open in August, but there is no doubt she missed a glorious opportunity against Sun.

An edgy performance from the 2021 US Open champion highlighted how much was at stake and she will now need wildcards to get into upcoming WTA 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati.

The good news for Raducanu is she has no ranking points to defend for the rest of 2024 and that means she should have a chance to rise up the rankings in the second half of this year.

Raducanu is currently sitting at No 92 in the live WTA rankings, which means she is British No 3 behind Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart.

Meanwhile, Sun’s success story is quite remarkable.

The New Zealander would never have believed she would be eyeing up a place in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon when she played in qualifying at Roehampton last month.

Now she will play Vekic for a place in the last four with her position in the live WTA rankings after this win against Raducanu sitting at No 53.

“It was a great match,” said Sun. “I really dug deep to get the win. I really had to fight tooth and nail because she obviously going to run for every ball and fight until the end. I’m just incredibly – I don’t even have the words right now.”

“While walking through the Centre Court, I was just looking around and taking it all in for the first time. I’m just super happy to be able to play on this court in front of all of you. It’s just such an amazing experience for me.”

Sun will never forget her experience at Wimbledon in 2024 and Raducanu will go away hoping this is the start of her comeback as she was ranked outside the top 200 in the rankings prior to this grass court summer in England.