Raducanu credits England after ‘winning ugly’ at Wimbledon

788bd550-37d0-11ef-bbe0-29f79e992ddd Raducanu credits England after 'winning ugly' at Wimbledon

Emma Raducanu says “winning ugly” on her Wimbledon return was all that mattered as she came through a testing first-round battle against Mexican lucky loser Renata Zarazua.

The 21-year-old Briton, who missed last year’s tournament through injury, claimed a 7-6 (7-0) 6-3 victory on Centre Court.

Raducanu said she used England’s dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Slovakia in Sunday’s Euro 2024 last-16 tie as “motivation” to find a way past Zarazua on Monday.

“I was nervous, I think everyone could see that in my tennis, but at the end of the day you have to do whatever it takes to get over the line,” said 135th-ranked Raducanu, who was given a wildcard to play in the tournament.

“Honestly, watching the football last night, it was winning ugly – it all counts.”

Raducanu was supposed to be playing 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova and thought she would be the “complete underdog” in her first appearance at the All England Club since losing in the second round two years ago.

Instead, the 2021 US Open champion found herself in a role reversal when the Russian withdrew through illness on Monday morning.

“For the past three days, I’ve been playing and setting up practice for similar opponents and then it is a change of plan,” said Raducanu.

“It took a little bit of adjusting and finding my feet.

“But I’d like to thank everyone for their support in the crucial moments. I enjoyed playing back here.”

Zarazua, who lost in the third round of qualifying, benefited from Alexandrova’s absence and was handed her main-draw debut at Wimbledon.

Despite the size of the occasion, she pushed Raducanu in what was a tense performance at times from the home favourite.

But the Briton, who was fired up and showed her passion throughout, had enough quality to eventually come through.

After Zarazua saved a match point on her own serve at 5-2, Raducanu set up another with a superb dash to the net to pick up a drop shot and clinched victory when her opponent put a sliced backhand long.

Raducanu said her love for the sport had returned this summer and the beaming smile which greeted the success signalled her happiness.

“I said I’d be over the moon if I won my first round here – and I really am,” added Raducanu, who plays Belgium’s Elise Mertens next.

“I feel the joy to be on site, the joy to be part of the buzz. I’m really just enjoying myself.”

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