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Friday, 05 July 2024 21:51

Raducanu dumps out Maria Sakkari to reach Wimbledon last 16.

By Jonathan Jurejko and Alan Jewell.

Britain's Emma Raducanu made a strong statement of intent by dismantling Greek ninth seed Maria Sakkari to reach the Wimbledon fourth round.

Raducanu, 21, again showcased some of her best tennis in a 6-2 6-3 win under the Centre Court roof.

"Today was really up there with the most fun I’ve had on a tennis court," said Raducanu, who beat Sakkari in the semi-finals of her incredible 2021 US Open win.

"I was telling myself, 'how many times in your life are you going to play in front of a full Centre Court?"

Given a wildcard to play after plummeting outside of the world’s top 100 following injury, she has not lost a set in the first week of the Championships.

Raducanu, who has matched her career-best run to the fourth round in 2021, has dropped just 11 games since coming through a tie-break in her opening match.

She is the first Briton through to the last 16 of this year's Wimbledon singles, with Sonay Kartal earlier losing to American second seed Coco Gauff on a wet Friday at the All England Club.

Kartal, the first British qualifier to reach the women's third round at Wimbledon since 1997, was beaten 6-4 6-0 under the roof on Court One.

Next in Raducanu's path is 123rd-ranked Lulu Sun, a qualifier from New Zealand who had never won a main-draw Grand Slam match until this week.

The smile is back - and the shots

A lot has happened since Raducanu and Sakkari last met on court during the Briton’s fairytale in New York.

Raducanu’s life changed forever after that fortnight, but the highs were quickly followed by the lows of injuries and dealing with expectation.

This summer, she has been smiling again. A cheerier demeanour has been symbolic of Raducanu rediscovering her love for the sport.

Some eyebrows were raised by her decision to skip the clay-court French Open in order to focus on the British grass-court season, but the move has proved a smart one.

A confidence-boosting run to the Nottingham semi-finals was backed up by reaching the Eastbourne quarter-finals.

On the English south coast, Raducanu beat American world number five Jessica Pegula for the first victory of her career against a top-10 opponent.

Another has arrived within a fortnight by beating Sakkari, and this takes her into the last 16 of a major for the first time since her US Open triumph.

Raducanu dominated off the first serve, ably supported by her power from the baseline, to take the Greek's serve in the first game of the match and saw off three break points to lead 4-2.

Having won just one of her previous six Grand Slam matches before arriving in SW19, Sakkari has ended a poor run at the majors.

But her confidence was quickly worn down by Raducanu's resilience.

Spectacular shots backed up the Briton's solidity.

An audacious lob as she defended deep dusted the back of the court for a 5-2 lead and she held serve - after seeing off two more break points to win the first set in 45 minutes.

Raducanu continued to pound the ball and push Sakkari back in the second set.

After breaking for a 2-1 lead, she saved two break points in the next game before taking Sakkari's serve again in the final game with a third match point.

A broad smile broke out across Raducanu's face as she skipped around the court and soaked up the acclaim of the happy home fans.