Emma Raducanu says a contentious decision has boosted her Wimbledon dream

Kevin Palmer
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Emma Raducanu came under fire after she opted against playing in qualifying for the French Open, but she believes that decision could now be crucial to her hopes of success at Wimbledon.

The 2021 US Open champion came under fire after she dropped out of qualifying for Roland Garros, but she is convinced that decision has helped her to enjoy a solid grass court season.

Raducanu reached the semi-finals at the Nottingham Open, before securing her first top 10 win against Jessica Pegula as she reached the quarter-finals in Eastbourne.

Now she has suggested the contentious move to pull out of the French Open is a key reason why she has shone on grass courts.

“I think that this year actually the time that I spent before taking off the French Open helped me just physically transition, helped me hit a few more balls on this surface,” said Raducanu.

“I think that for me, it was a good play to do that. I really like it. Obviously, I play good on hard courts, too. But I think in the future, I hope to be a versatile player and play on all the surfaces.

“I think this year was the first time where even on clay I have the potential to be good. I move pretty well on it. I think given more time on the surface, I could actually be a good player.

“I think that this year I was very good on indoor clay. Then going on to outdoor, it’s a different story again. That’s a story for another year. For now, I’m enjoying the quicker surfaces, for sure.”

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She is one of the more dangerous unseeded players, but the draw was not kind, with Russian 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who has strong grass-court pedigree, her opening opponent.

“If I get through my first round, I’d be over the moon,” said Raducanu.

“I think it’s a tough match. She’s seeded really well. It’s obviously going to be hard. I think that she’s got great weapons. On this surface, it only amplifies big weapons.

“I’m expecting a really difficult match. I think it’s a match where I’m actually the complete underdog because she’s a lot older, a lot more experienced, ranked a lot higher.

“I feel like it’s just a great opportunity to try to get a good scalp, try to enjoy playing how I have been in the last few weeks, and just get back into it.”

Raducanu missed Wimbledon last year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle and is still ranked well outside the top 100, but such is her profile she has been scheduled on Centre Court in between Carlos Alcaraz and Coco Gauff.

“I had the opportunity to play on Centre in 2022,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s really special. I think to go out there again, be second on Monday, it’s just an amazing opportunity.

“I’m very happy to be back here. I think I’ve missed this tournament so much. This year, coming back and practising, it reminded me a lot more.

“I just feel very grateful to have the opportunity and the wild card to be able to compete here. I obviously have amazing memories from 2021. It’s an amazing place to be.”