US Open champ Raducanu wins in straight sets

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LONDON — Emma Raducanu said she’s ready to take the lessons learned from her breakthrough year into this Wimbledon after getting through her first-round singles match against Alison Van Uytvanck in straight sets.

Raducanu saw off Van Uytvanck in 101 minutes, winning 6-4, 6-4 in what was her first match on Centre Court.

“To play on Centre Court and get a win first time, it’s amazing,” Raducanu said. “Now every time I go back, I’m just going to have a great first experience.”

It was Raducanu’s second time in the main draw at Wimbledon, after her fourth-round exit last year. She entered Wimbledon last year thanks to a wild card and ranked 338th in the world — this time around she was on Centre Court as the reigning US Open champion and ranked No. 11.

But with just seven games (not matches) of grass-court tennis to her name this season due to a side strain, Raducanu’s fitness was in doubt running into the championship. But on her first match on Wimbledon’s main court, she secured her first straight-sets Grand Slam win since last year’s US Open.

“I definitely feel a really good energy,” Raducanu said. “Like how can you not playing here? Just walking around, you really feel the positivity. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot in the last year.

“But it hasn’t necessarily all been terrible. I won my first round at every Slam. As a 19-year-old, I pretty much just took my gap year and, like, starting again now.

“If the last year hadn’t have happened, then I think that any 19-year-old walking onto Centre Court would be a positive experience for you. And it was. And I definitely embodied that today.”

After the match, Raducanu was wearing an item of clothing from Rafael Nadal’s clothing brand, and said she has taken inspiration from how he’s battled injury to win both the Australian Open and French Open this year.

“I think Rafa just embodies fight, that sort of energy,” Raducanu said. “That’s what I’m bringing in. In terms of energy-wise, I think that I have had a tough year, like it’s no secret. It is all worth it just to go out on Centre Court and get a win like that.

“I definitely am very happy to be here. All the lessons I’ve taken from the last year will only hold me in good stead for the future.”

After a tentative start, Raducanu and Van Uytvanck exchanged breaks of serve in the first set, before Raducanu broke the Belgian to make it 5-4 and then served out for the set. The second set took a similar pattern, with Raducanu breaking at the key moment at 4-4 to serve out for a 6-4 triumph, closing the match out by converting the second of three match points.

Raducanu will now prepare for her second-round match against Caroline Garcia on Wednesday with an emphasis on pacing herself after a disrupted couple of weeks with injury.

“I think that having played the match just now, right now I think that I’m still, like, very much on adrenaline,” Raducanu said. “I felt good out there. There were some tough moments in the second set physically, but I told myself, ‘Push through, if you win in two sets, then you don’t have to play three.’ That’s the tactic.”

Raducanu flew under the radar this time last year, but there were no benefits of anonymity this time around.

“Every tournament or every match you play, you learn something. It helps it all be a positive tool for the future,” Raducanu said.

“I think in a way, when you haven’t played anyone before, it helps, too, because no one knows you, no one knows your game. That is something that I experienced in a positive way last summer because no one really knew who I was.

“Since, I think that people have definitely watched me and raised their level and raised their game and played some great tennis. I haven’t necessarily played badly in a lot of the matches.

“I think that coming back here is always going to be a special tournament for me, my home tournament. I’ve got incredible memories. I’m just looking forward to playing here again.”

Other seeded women who advanced were No. 2 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, No. 3 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, No. 24 Elise Mertens of Belgium and No. 29 Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine. Kalinina will face another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko, in the second round.

American Alison Riske was the first player to reach the second round. The 28th-seeded American defeated Ylena In-Albon of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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