Kent's Emma Raducanu makes Wimbledon 2024 prediction despite late change to draw

Emma Raducanu smiles during a practice session at Wimbledon
-Credit: (Image: John Walton/PA))

Emma Raducanu heads into Wimbledon full of confidence but played down expectations for her first match on Monday.

The former US Open champion has been in fine form on the British grass, reaching the semi-finals in Nottingham before losing to Katie Boulter in a very tight contest and then claiming her first win over a top-10 opponent against Jessica Pegula on her way to the Eastbourne quarter-finals.

She is one of the more dangerous unseeded players, but the draw was not kind, with Russian 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who has decent grass-court pedigree, her opening opponent. However, Alexandrova pulled out on Monday (July 7) meaning Raducanu will now play lucky loser Renata Zarazua

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"If I get through my first round, I'd be over the moon," said Raducanu, speaking before the change of opponent.

"I think it's a tough match. She's seeded really well. It's obviously going to be hard. I think that she's got great weapons. On this surface, it only amplifies big weapons."

"I'm expecting a really difficult match. I think it's a match where I'm actually the complete underdog because she's a lot older, a lot more experienced, ranked a lot higher."

"I feel like it's just a great opportunity to try to get a good scalp, try to enjoy playing how I have been in the last few weeks, and just get back into it."

Raducanu missed the Championships last year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle and is still ranked well outside the top 100, but such is her profile she has been scheduled on Centre Court in between Carlos Alcaraz and Coco Gauff.

"I had the opportunity to play on Centre in 2022," said the 21-year-old. "It's really special. I think to go out there again, be second on Monday, it's just an amazing opportunity."

"I'm very happy to be back here. I think I've missed this tournament so much. This year, coming back and practising, it reminded me a lot more."

"I just feel very grateful to have the opportunity and the wild card to be able to compete here. I obviously have amazing memories from 2021. It's an amazing place to be."

Emma Raducanu covers her face with her hands after beating Jessica Pegula in Eastbourne
Emma Raducanu reacts after winning her match against Jessica Pegula (not pictured) on day five of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne -Credit:Andrew Matthews/PA

So eager was Raducanu to return to Wimbledon that she eschewed a planned day off on Friday following her Eastbourne exploits for a late hit with male compatriot Jan Choinski.

The Kent player remains wary of pushing her body too hard, skipping French Open qualifying to practise on grass, but is encouraged by her growing physical resilience.

"I feel very confident in my body," she said. "I was able to play three matches at a high level last week and come out physically unscathed."

"I think I'm in a really good place. Last year I did a good chunk of work at the end of the year to get back and healthy. I've continued that work on throughout this year."

"I feel good in my body. There's no doubts. I would say this preparation has worked out really well. I got a great balance between matches but also staying fresh and not playing too much."

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