Tim Henman finds an apt word to describe Emma Raducanu’s sensational Wimbledon win

Kevin Palmer
Tim Henman gives his verdict on Emma Raducanu
Tim Henman gives his verdict on Emma Raducanu

Former British No 1 Tim Henman described Emma Raducanu’s win against Elise Mertens as ‘ruthless’ after the 2021 US Open champion powered into the third round at Wimbledon.

Back on Court No.1 for the first time since her breakthrough run to the fourth round here three years ago ahead of that historic New York fortnight, Raducanu seized control from the start and raced to a 6-1 6-2 victory.

In 2021, the occasion was ultimately too much for the then teenager and she retired with breathing difficulties against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Raducanu has lived a lifetime of experiences since then, many of them negative, but has had a smile plastered on her face at the All England Club this year and appears finally at ease with her place in the sport.

If she can maintain the form she showed against Belgian Mertens, ranked one place outside the seedings at 33, she could yet do some serious damage in this tournament.

“I feel so, so welcome here,” said Raducanu. “Court One is my favourite court. I think I played some really good tennis today, I’m really pleased. I’m over the moon to be playing here and just to extend my stay by one more day.

“I knew all the hard yards and the hard work I’ve been doing would lead to something and I’m just so happy to reap some of the rewards in Wimbledon.”

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The plaudits will now start to flow in Raducanu’s direction once again, with Henman leading the acclaim as he spoke to the BBC.

“It was brilliant,” declared Henman. “Her first round was a struggle. She was on Centre Court, she was meant to play a seeded player, she pulled out, got the lucky loser. And the first round we know, for tennis players, is always difficult.

“She really struggled, but it’s all about getting the job done. She talked about winning ugly, but it’s all about finding a way to win to give yourself an opportunity in the second round.

“When you come out with that win under your belt, it’s a totally different kettle of fish and she was just absolutely brilliant from the word go.

“Technically, physically, mentally, there was no let up. There was no panic. To beat a player like Mertens on a grass court 6-1 6-2 is a statement victory.”

Henman went on to suggest that Raducanu is playing at her best once again as she is free from the injuries that have hampered her progress over the last 12 months.

“She is healthy and therefore happy,” he added. “You can go and do the work on the practice courts and then you will reap the rewards.

“She has been working so hard in the gym and on the practice courts. She didn’t play that much on clay, but when she did play she played very well.

“She saved herself for the grass and then you see these types of performances. The confidence is growing before our eyes.

“When you haven’t played that much tennis, you can play well for a while and then have dips in concentration.

“What was impressive was Raducanu was ruthless and never let Mertens in. She never let her in because she is a quality. To win losing just three games is a fantastic performance.”

If the hype machine around Raducanu was not already beginning to purr, it certainly will be now and the British media will lead the charge now that their golden girl is rising back to the top.