Wimbledon 2022: Emma Raducanu edges past Alison van Uytvanck on Centre Court debut

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Wimbledon 2022: Emma Raducanu edges past Alison van Uytvanck on Centre Court debut
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This wasn’t vintage Emma Raducanu for her first time gracing Centre Court but, in the end, it didn’t quite need to be.

Her rhythm was lacking – unsurprising having not played for nearly three weeks – and her unforced error count was too high at 18. Plus, she only converted four of 12 break-point chances, two of which came courtesy of double faults from her opponent.

But crucially she mustered all the necessary grit and determination to edge out Alison van Uytvanck. And positively there seemed little sign of the side strain which has kept her off court since the Nottingham Open earlier this month.

Emma Raducanu | Wimbledon 2022

There have been infinitely more memorable matches in Raducanu’s brief career to date but the 19-year-old won’t be unduly concerned having beaten a dangerous first-round opponent 6-4, 6-4 to seal her spot in the second round.

The British No1 had spoken in the build-up of being inspired by sharing the same tournament as the likes of Novak Djokovic, who was similarly not in full flow on his way through the preceding match on Centre.

Much of the Centre Court emptied out after the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s exit off court, creating something of a diminished atmosphere from the outset of Raducanu-van Uytvanck.

It threatened to be a marathon as the pair took 17 minutes to complete just two games for a stalemate, the Belgian first saving two breaks to Raducanu’s three.

The teenager seemed to feed off the crowd as the seats steadily filled up and the atmosphere lifted to get the first break for a 4-3 lead.

With neither player previously able to break, the latter half of the set was in stark contrast, three straight broken service games following between the pair of them before the No10 seed held for the set.

Raducanu threatened to race away with the second set initially but spurned countless break opportunities in the opening game. Instead, the first break went to van Uytvanck.

Her opponent looked to have sealed the winner to halt the break with a nicely timed cross-court forehand only for van Uytvanck to cling onto the rally and go 3-1 ahead with a forehand winner down the line.

At times during the course of the two sets, there were echoes of Andy Murray as Raducanu grumbled irritatedly to herself at the back of the court. But a plea of “fight” had the desired effect and she immediately broke back.

From there, the match still hung in the balance but with the earlier downpours replaced by blue skies and sunshine, she broke once more to keep van Uytvanck at arm’s length for the win.

“It’s an incredibly special feeling to be coming back here at Wimbledon,” said Raducanu on her win.

“I felt the support the minute I walked out of those doors. It’s all worth it to play on Centre Court and especially come through with the win. I’m extremely pleased to have come through that match. I’m so happy just to stay another day."

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