MATCH POINT: Garcia finishes off Raducanu

How best to view Caroline Garcia’s 6-3, 6-3 second round Wimbledon win over Emma Raducanu?

This being Wimbledon, the headliner was Raducanu, who’d first hit the tennis radar here twelve months ago when she was 18 years old, ranked 338 in the world and made a surprising run to the round of 16. Raducanu’s breakthrough summer was bookended even more spectacularly when she won the US Open as a qualifier. Much of this is known to the world and all that performance and possibility has earned Raducanu millions.

Then there was Garcia. The 28-year-old Frenchwoman has long had the wide range of sharp all-court tools that could make her a Top 10 mainstay. But it hasn’t gone that way. Ranked as high as No. 4 in 2018, but currently 55th, Garcia has often struggled to find consistency, both during matches and from one day to another. Her only previous effort versus Raducanu was vivid, Raducanu this spring at Indian Wells winning by the unusual score of 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. And given that this would be Garcia’s Centre Court debut, how well would she hold up versus the pride of a nation?

The answer: superbly. Said Garcia, “Obviously I learn a little bit some stuff when I played against her in the U.S. and tried to learn from my loss and makes things better.” Fighting back from love-30 in the opening game of the match to hold serve, Garcia rapidly controlled just about every inch of real estate, repeatedly revealing one Raducanu weakness after another. One major port of entry: Raducanu’s second serve, a delivery Garcia constantly feasted on, stepping well inside the baseline to return it, usually with depth, occasionally with a follow-up dash to the net.

“Yeah, of course it will make me a better player because they're just highlighting all my weaknesses,” said Raducanu. “Then when you do it on a big court like that, it's definitely magnified.”


After three successive opening round exits at SW19, Garcia is through to the third round for a third time.

After three successive opening round exits at SW19, Garcia is through to the third round for a third time.

All told, Garcia approached 20 times, winning a sparkling 16 points. Lots of recent results have no doubt fueled Garcia’s confidence and capacity for aggression, including a singles title run last week on the grass in Hamburg and, earlier in June, winning the doubles at Roland Garros, a reunion pairing alongside Kristina Mladenovic.

As the match wore on, it was uncertain how Raducanu planned to derail an in-form Garcia other than to drive her groundstrokes with depth and extract errors from an opponent who’d naturally have moments of nervousness competing on tennis’ most iconic court. At this point in her development, Raducanu is mostly a ball-striker and a fighter. But versus Garcia, she was often late to the ball, unable to address it with the force that had seen her rocket up the ranks these last 12 months. Even when Raducanu pinned Garcia with a few lasers, she was unable to take advantage of the openings created by her pace and depth, instead giving Garcia the chance to reset the rally with a mix of height and the defender’s best counter, a cross-court drive.

Raducanu also cited the wind’s role. “You could feel it a lot from one end,” she said. “So on one end I felt like I was struggling to get my length and any sort of ball speed. Then on the other, it just, like, pulls forwards. It's like you're reaching for every ball. But, yeah, it's the same for both players, so it's not like I was the only one out there struggling with the wind.”

After winning the 39-minute first set, Garcia served in the second at 0-1, 30-40. Here again, she approached the net—reducing the risk of wind-propelled odd bounces—Raducanu netting a forehand pass. Garcia held for 1-all, broke at 2-all. Raducanu fought back, leveling the set at 3-all. The Centre Court crowd erupted, clearly eager for Raducanu to generate more momentum and take the match into a third.

But Garcia would have none of it. Raducanu served at 3-all, fought off two break points, but misfired on a backhand on the third to hand Garcia the game. From there, Garcia maintained depth, consistency and poise, holding at 30 to go up 5-3. In the next game, on her first match point at 30-40, Garcia laced an untouchable crosscourt backhand, her 25th winner, to close out the match in 86 minutes. “I'm very pleased that I play my first big match in Centre Court and I got the win,” said Garcia, “because I don't have great memories from my first step on the other center court of slams like either US Open or Australian Open, and French Open, as well.

“It's experience. You learn from everything. I'm obviously very happy that today I played a full match from the first point to the last one.”