Superb Raducanu overawes Mertens to reach third round in front of rapturous home crowd

Emma Raducanu defeated Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-2 and will play the winner of the match between Arantxa Rus and Maria Sakkari in the next round

Emma Raducanu, Wimbledon, 2024 Emma Raducanu, Wimbledon, 2024 © Action Plus / Panoramic
Wimbledon •Second round • completed
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2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu is back in the kind of form that delivered her a maiden Grand Slam title in New York three years ago.

The Briton took apart the experienced Elise Mertens 6-1, 6-2 with a superb display to reach the third round of Wimbledon for just the second time in her young career, much to the vocal delight of the home fans inside Court One.

Mertens is a former Australian Open semi-finalist and a world No 1 doubles player with extensive experience of playing on the biggest stages in the biggest moments. But Raducanu outplayed, outmanoeuvred and outhit the Belgian from start to finish with a wonderful exhibition of grass-court tennis.

Breaking in the second and fourth games, consolidated with three holds in between, saw Raducanu sprint into a 5-0 lead.

Mertens avoided the chastening experience of an opening-set bagel by holding serve well under immense pressure. But the Briton then proceeded to comfortably serve out the first set, letting out a roar of defiance as the crowd rose to their feet in celebration.

The Belgian did very little wrong throughout the contest, playing some fine tennis of her own as she held serve well following a lengthy opening game in the second set.

But Raducanu’s quality never dipped, and the pressure was unrelenting. She broke in the third and fifth games of the second stanza en route to a 5-2 lead as her own serve proved impenetrable.

If Mertens hoped there would be signs of tension as her opponent served for the match, it was not evident in Raducanu’s tennis as the former US Open champion confidently served out one of her greatest victories since that stunning run in New York back in 2021.

The Briton has reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2021 US Open, and has returned to the third round of her home Grand Slam for only the second time in her career.

“I think I’m playing really good tennis,” was Raducanu’s measured answer in her on-court interview.

“I’m really happy with the improvements I’ve made. I knew all the hard yards and hard work I was doing this year would lead to something. I’m just so happy that I’m able to reap some of the rewards here at Wimbledon.”

resurgent raducanu also set to play doubles with andy murray at wimbledon

With the announcement that Raducanu is set to play mixed doubles with Andy Murray in his Wimbledon swansong being revealed this morning, there is now the unmistakeable sense circulating around SW19 that this year’s Championships has something very special in store.

That partnership alone might draw the biggest audience Wimbledon has seen in many years. But add to that the fact that Raducanu is replicating her very best form in the singles, and excitement surrounding home hopes at this year’s tournament is starting to build to stratospheric levels.

“My doubles record isn’t the longest or most vast,” she said about playing doubles with Murray.

“I couldn’t say no. It’s a once in a life time opportunity. It’s a dream of mine since I was a young girl. Andy is a hero to all of us. For me it’s a real gift and it’s a real honour that he asked me.

“It’s a moment I could never say no to. I’m super excited to be on the mixed doubles court and hopefully learn a thing or two about coming to the net.”

There will be no easy matches for the former British No 1. She will face either Arantxa Rus or ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the third round.

Sakkari would be yet another significant step up in quality, but Raducanu will have the knowledge that she did beat her comfortably during her US Open title run.

Regardless of what the rest of the Wimbledon fortnight has in store for the current world No 135, she is very much back on track after a challenging few years since being catapulted to global fame in 2021.

Win or lose in her next match, the future looks very bright for Raducanu as she has proved her ability to compete with world-leading players whatever the pressure.

Just as importantly, she looks happy, grounded and enjoying her tennis once more.

That should be enough to give every tennis fan cause to celebrate.

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