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Garcia, high on confidence and fatigue: “Raducanu, it will be a great match to play”

Caroline Garcia gritted her teeth to pull out a first-round win on Monday, and she hopes to have recovered sufficiently by the time she takes on phenomenon Emma Raducanu on Wednesday

Caroline Garcia France’s Caroline Garcia celebrates winning her first round match against Britain’s Yuriko Lily Miyazaki (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Winning is good – but it’s also tiring. Wednesday will show whether the trophy she won in Bad Homburg will continue to carry or will end up weighing down Caroline Garcia.

“The title gives you confidence, you know that certain points of your game are in place, even if on Monday I couldn’t rely on many of them and I had to work hard and fight,” said the Frenchwoman after beating British wild card Lily Miyazaki (4-6, 6-1, 7-6).

“We’ll have to make some adjustments during the rest day because the surface is different here. When you’ve won a tournament, you’ve obviously gone through complicated moments, you’ve been under stress, but you’ve managed to handle it well so that gives you confidence too. There is a clear path. You know how you won and how to continue.”

Garcia – It’s complicated

When Garcia arrived on Court 17 at Wimbledon for her first-round match with both thighs hidden under tape, it was easy for the onlooker to suspect that a trap was lying in wait, and that she would be an early exit from the tournament.

“I arrived late from Germany and the conditions are really different. Physically, I didn’t know how I was going to feel so I didn’t have any particular expectations. The sequence of events has been complicated, so I didn’t expect to be very dynamic on the court. But I’m happy with the way I managed to deal with that. I couldn’t rely too much on my physicality but I managed to get through it and adapt well to the conditions and I progressed as the match went on. That’s the most important thing.”

At 4-5, 15-30 in the third set, after losing her break lead (3-1), the Frenchwoman was not far from breaking. But that’s when we saw that in Germany she had finally got past a block that had inhibited her previously, and that will serve her well against Emma Raducanu, seeded 10th, on Wednesday.

A huge forehand slap and an ace in the last two points kept Garcia off the precipice, and then her mind did the rest until the end of the match. She was determined to play the game no matter what, and she came through.

Now a great challenge awaits her in the form of the US Open champion.

“It’s a great match to play against Raducanu in the next round, she’ll obviously be the crowd favourite but I’m looking forward to playing that match.”

A year ago, a second-round match against Raducanu would have earned her a spot on a side court anywhere on the tour, even Wimbledon. But today, Raducanu has become an international star overnight and her face is everywhere: magazines, poster campaigns, film premieres, the Met Gala, you name it.

When Coco Gauff said in Paris, before her final, that winning the title would not change her life, we all smiled. She also smiled: yes, a Grand Slam title can change your life. The last US Open title changed Emma Raducanu’s life.

Garcia v Raducanu, the first chapter at Indian Wells

Since then? Not much, except a lot of contract signings. But the 19-year-old, seeded tenth here, has game and, for the moment, nerves too, as she hassn’t bent under the delirious pressure that has fallen on each of her outings since New York. In Wimbledon, she returns to the land of her first exploits, having reached the round of 16 here last year, already to everyone’s surprise, before giving up after suffering breathing problems against Ajla Tomljanovic.

This is the “Emma-Mania” that Garcia will discover on Wednesday. She played Raducanu this year in Indian Wells and lost in three sets (6-1, 3-6, 6-1) but this next encounter will not be played in the same atmosphere. At Wimbledon, Britain is dreaming of seeing Raducanu go all the way. It would make as little sense as her triumph in New York but if she did it once, why not twice? The off-court proportions of Raducanu’s rise defy logic.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates with the championship trophy after her match on day thirteen of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates with the championship trophy after her match on day thirteen of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

So we asked Garcia what she thought of this newcomer with a decidedly unusual trajectory. She smiled. “It’s true that in 12 months she has gone from a player who was 350 in the world to a global phenomenon in all areas, and with all the sponsors that exist. Good for her! If her personality and her game speak to many people, good for her. After that, I just want to focus on the tennis, see what she does on the court and figure out how I can find a solution.”

Raducanu made a good impression against Alison Van Uytvanck on Monday, both in her game and in her attitude (6-4, 6-4). Determined without being tense, the new star assumed a crazy status that she has managed to accept for the moment without losing her head, saying: “I haven’t been able to play for a fortnight and this week I haven’t been able to train for more than an hour a day so my preparation hasn’t been ideal, but I know that when the match comes, I’ll respond, that’s how it is. It was amazing to play on centre court today.”

Raducanu: Garcia will be dangerous

It would be a real shame for Garcia if her legs failed her in this match, because on paper she has what it takes to turn this second-round encounter into one hell of a popcorn match.

“Caroline will be a dangerous opponent,” the Briton warned. “She plays very fast but I’ll be ready for that.”

You can’t believe that the experienced players on the circuit, of which the Frenchwoman is one, at 28 years old, don’t have the pride to assert themselves a little more than usual when they face the rookie Raducanu – not the person, but the phenomenon. Perhaps that will provide the little extra something that Garcia will have to summon to convince her legs to get through it.

At this point in her career, the Frenchwoman needs to rediscover these great atmospheres in major tournaments. And probably even more so to win some important matches.

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