Emma Raducanu looking forward to Centre Court bow at Wimbledon
Emma Raducanu will take her place as one of the headline acts of Wimbledon when the tournament kicks off on Monday.
The idea of one British grand slam champion featuring on the Centre Court bill would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago but these are heady days and the opening triumvirate sees Raducanu follow defending champion Novak Djokovic and precede Andy Murray.
“I think that’s a pretty cool line-up,” said Raducanu, who will be making her Centre Court bow.
“Just to be included amongst those names is special in itself. I never would have thought that. I’m obviously looking forward to getting out there.”
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Whether Raducanu can hope to match last year’s run to the fourth round, or even push towards echoing her remarkable US Open triumph, will become clearer when she begins her match against dangerous Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.
Raducanu has declared herself fit and ready to go, and there will certainly be no hiding place if the side strain she suffered in Nottingham three weeks ago is still niggling.
They have met once before, at a second tier tournament in Chicago last summer, when Van Uytvanck was the top seed and Raducanu still a promising up-and-comer.
The British number one won that one but Van Uytvanck is a proven performer on grass having reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018, while she won a warm-up tournament in Italy last weekend.
Raducanu, who has managed just seven competitive games on grass this season, said: “I definitely feel like game-wise I back myself pretty much against anyone. I feel if I really put my mind to it and commit then I can be pretty good. So I’m definitely looking forward to the match.
“But she’s a really tricky opponent, especially on grass courts. I think this surface definitely suits her well. She plays a pretty quick, high-tempo game. It’s definitely going to take some getting used to, being prepared for that straightaway.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough match-up, but every match is at this level. I’m still ready to go.”
On paper, Murray has a more straightforward opener against 77th-ranked Australian James Duckworth, who has not won a match all season.
The two-time Wimbledon champion appears to have recovered well from an abdominal strain and can take a lot of confidence from a run to the final of the ATP Tour event in Stuttgart a fortnight ago, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios.
Murray and Kyrgios are arguably the two most dangerous unseeded players, and the Australian was impressed by his rival’s play in Germany.
“I think he’s one of the most dangerous players on grass still,” said Kyrgios. “I definitely think the way he can handle speed, return, compete, slice, volley. As long as his body is feeling well, I don’t want to see him on the grass at all.
“I’m playing unbelievable tennis at the moment. That first set was as good a level as anyone can produce on the grass. I know what he’s capable of.”
Raducanu and Murray are among nine British players competing on Monday.
British number one and ninth seed Cameron Norrie finds himself out on Court Two against Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar while Heather Watson meets German Tamara Korpatsch.
Debutant Ryan Peniston will hope to continue his breakthrough summer against Swiss Henri Laaksonen while Jodie Burrage, who has also been in excellent form on the grass, plays Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.
Also in action are Jay Clarke, who faces American Christian Harrison, Katie Swan, who meets Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, and Yuriko Miyazaki, who has a tricky task against France’s Caroline Garcia.
Among the big names getting their campaigns under way, meanwhile, are French Open finalist Casper Ruud and fifth seeds Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz.