Emma Raducanu’s spectacular Wimbledon debut continued as the teenager stunned Sorana Cirstea to become the youngest British woman to reach the last 16 in the Open Era.
Raducanu, who has been known as a serious talent within the British game for many years, had already swept past qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko and former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova to reach the third round without dropping a set.
The 18-year-old stayed in school to complete A levels in maths and economics, only finishing a couple of months ago, and playing on the biggest stage of her career so far on Court One, she handled the occasion in impeccable fashion.
Taking on the world No 45, who knocked out Victoria Azarenka in the previous round, Raducanu produced a sparkling attacking display, fighting spirit and tenacity, claiming the win on her third match point.
Raducanu, who won the first ITF junior title she was allowed to compete in, aged just 13, said in her on-court interview: “Honestly, I am so speechless right now, at the end I didn’t know what my reaction would be if I won and that just happened, I am so so grateful for all the support I had today.
“Who would have thought, it is funny because at the start when I was packing to come into the bubble, my parents were like, ‘Aren’t you packing too many sets of match kit?’.
“I think I am going to have to do some laundry tonight, but I think they have a laundry service at the hotel, so I am all good.”
Wow! What a performance from 18 year old @EmmaRaducanu. Fearless, ferocious, fabulous. Well played. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) July 3, 2021
Raducanu next faces a very winnable fourth-round clash against Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday, which will surely be played on Centre Court. The Australian world No 75 upset former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 4-6 6-4 6-2.
In a precursor for what was to come, she forced break points in the opening game of the match, which Cirstea saved, before holding to love in her first service game.
🙌 @EmmaRaducanu 🙌
That’s it. That’s the post.#Wimbedon pic.twitter.com/suKxMa00dp
— LTA (@the_LTA) July 3, 2021
The Romanian flexed her muscles by claiming an early break to go 3-1 up after a smart backhand down the line.
If she thought she had broken the spirit of Raducanu, she was very wrong and the Brit proceeded to rattle off eight successive games which put her in a winning position.
She immediately broke back and then held to love to make it 3-3 and there was no looking back as she demolished Cirstea with an array of attacking winners, sealing the first set with a brilliant backhand defensive lob.
That carried over into the second set, quickly racing into a 3-0 lead, and at 0-40 on the Cirstea service game, the finish line was in sight. But a mixture of some Raducanu errors and some big serves allowed Cirstea to wriggle out of her predicament and changed the complexion of the second set.
Emma Raducanu! Gwarnnn girl 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 #Wimbledon
— Heather Watson (@HeatherWatson92) July 3, 2021
Cirstea then broke Raducunu and held again to draw level at 3-3, which is when the drama began. Raducanu showed guts to come from 0-30 down to hold serve and to stop the rot before a tension-filled 14-minute game on Cirstea’s delivery.
Raducanu had her chances, with five break points and nine deuces, but she could not get over the line.
Cirstea’s serve had come under threat the whole afternoon, though, and it was the same again, with Raducunu this time clinching the match at the third time of asking when her opponent dumped a backhand into the net.
Enjoy every second, @EmmaRaducanu 😊#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/g7hI1gPBP2
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2021