London: US Open champion Emma Raducanu played down the pressure on her young shoulders after crashing out of Wimbledon in the second round on Wednesday.
The British 10th seed went down 6-3, 6-3 against Caroline Garcia, disappointing a partisan home crowd on Centre Court.
But the 19-year-old was sanguine after her defeat, saying she “didn’t really have many expectations of myself”.
Raducanu was asked whether experiencing the pressure at Wimbledon again would help her as she prepares for the defence of her US Open title.
A learning curve
But she laughed it off, saying she was looking forward to returning to Flushing Meadows.
“There’s no pressure,” she said. “Like, why is there any pressure? I’m still 19.
“Like, it’s a joke. I literally won a Slam. Going back to New York, it’s going to be cool because I have got a lot of experiences playing on big courts, playing with people in the stadium, playing with the spotlight on you.
“I don’t mind that. I mean, for me, everything is learning. I’m embracing every single moment that is thrown at me.”
Raducanu, who was troubled by a side strain in the run-up to Wimbledon, was broken five times in the match by her French opponent, ranked 55 in the world.
The British player was on the back foot early in the contest after being broken in her first service game and won just 45 percent of points on her first serve.
She said he had been hampered by a lack of time on court since the French Open due to various niggles but that she had been fit for Wimbledon.
“I declared myself fully fit when I walked out onto the court on the first day,” she said.
“But I’ve played seven hours of tennis in a month. To even compete with these girls at this level and win a round I think is a pretty good achievement.”
Garcia, fresh from winning on grass at Bad Homberg, hit 25 winners in an impressive display.
“Emma is a huge player and in her home tournament and she proved she can do very well on the big stage,” she said.
“I really enjoyed playing on Centre Court, it was my first time and very special.”
Top seed Novak Djokovic looked every bit the dominant player who has won the last three Wimbledon titles in a commanding 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis to power into the third round. The 35-year-old, bidding for his seventh Wimbledon title, looked scratchy during his opening win over Kwon Soon-woo but he was back close to his usual lofty standards against the 79th-ranked Kokkinakis.
The Australian defeated Roger Federer in the second round of the Miami Masters in 2018 but there were no signs of another upset on Centre Court as the 20-time major champion dictated terms from the start.
It was the 23rd straight victory for Djokovic at the grasscourt Grand Slam.
“I’m very happy with my performance today,” Djokovic said on court. “I thought I started off very well, very solid from the back of the court, made him work for every point that I managed to get his serve back in play.
“I tried to work him around the court, bring a lot of variety in the game.
“It was not easy to serve because of the wind, it was very swirly today on the court, so tough to toss the ball. But I think from my side overall, a really high-quality performance and I’m very pleased.”
The Serb, who defeated Kokkinakis in straight sets in their only previous meeting seven years ago at Roland Garros, broke his opponent’s serve early in each of the three sets and managed five breaks in the match.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Ugo Humbert forgot his rackets but definitely brought his A game to Wimbledon as he recovered strongly from a shaky start to beat French Open runner-up Casper Ruud 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round.
It was a deserved win for the 24-year-old, who had lost in the first round at his six previous Grand Slam events, and as world No 112 was a big underdog against the Norwegian, who lost to Rafa Nadal in the Roland Garros final three weeks ago.
Ruud was also the only one of the top eight men who came through the first round without dropping a set, though he did need two tiebreaks to get past Albert Ramos Vinolas.
He was the better player in the first set, with Humbert perhaps distracted by turning up on court without any rackets after the start was delayed for over 90 minutes by rain.
Humbert, however, quickly improved in the second set, breaking for a 3-1 lead and again to love en route to levelling the match.
The left-hander continued to unload in the third, wayward at first as he trailed 3-0, but finding a succession of winners to claw back to 4-4 before taking it 7-5 on the back of 21 winners.
Ruud regrouped and there was little between them in a series of high-quality exchanges but Humberts confidence was up and as he continued to go for the lines. It paid off when he got the key break for 5-4 on the back of two superb drives and nervelessly served out to love to seal victory. Humbert, who reached the last 16 at Wimbledon in 2019 and won the Halle grass event last year, will play Belgium’s David Goffin in the third round. “I love to play on grass, I’ve played a lot of good matches,” he said. “I’ve had some big battles. It was a great match and a great atmosphere.”