Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon rally cry after first grass match in 713 days | Tennis | Sport

Emma Raducanu admitted her delight at having British fans cheer her on ahead of Wimbledon, having secured a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Ena Shibahara. The match was the 2021 US Open champion’s first grass-court appearance in 713 days.

Raducanu has been unable to play in front of home support in nearly two years due to injuries, but is desperate for fans at Nottingham and SW19 to be on her side as she “cherished” the moment in her Rothesay Open last 32 win.

“It’s amazing to be playing on home turf, it’s been so long since I last played in the UK really,” she said in her on-court interview. “I played in France earlier this year and at the French it was very loud, but the other way. To come here and feel like everyone is really behind me is really nice. I’m cherishing every moment of that too.”

“It’s been quite a few weeks since I last played a competitive match so I didn’t really know how it would go. I think my intentions were great from the start. I think I played a really good match and inevitably when you’re 6-1, 5-1 up something could probably go wrong.

“I was trying just not to let it go to my head and just prepare and fight for each point, knowing that even though I lost three games in a row, I still had a chance to win that last game.

“All credit to Ena, she was making it very tricky on the grass court with the serve and volley, it’s tough to find a way past but I’m very pleased with how I dealt with the circumstances today.”

Raducanu was in cruise control as she wrapped up victory over doubles specialist Shibahara in 70 minutes, but not before a late scare. She led 6-1, 5-1 but let three points slip away and prompted fears over whether the 21-year-old would be able to keep her nerves.

But a stunning return forced an error from her American-Japanese opponent and a visibly delighted Raducanu shared her delight of being able to celebrate in front of a British crowd.

She will next face Ukrainian star Daria Snigur, who overcame compatriot Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-3 in the first round, with Raducanu hoping to continue her winning start to Wimbledon preparations.

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