Emma Raducanu’s Wimbledon story ended in an unfortunate way as she retired from her fourth-round match with Alja Tomljanovic after 75 minutes’ play. The end arrived abruptly and unexpectedly, following a medical time-out in the second set which was brought on by breathing difficulties.
The immediate cause of the issue was not clear, although Raducanu seemed to be struggling physically and mentally with this intense battle. She called the trainer to the court while trailing Tomljanovic by a 6-4, 3-0 margin, and was told “Nice slow breaths, that’s it.”
Ironically, Covid protocols then required Raducanu to don a facemask as she left the court, which was probably the last thing she wanted to do as she gasped for air. After a delay of around five minutes, the referee came out and chair umpire Aurelie Torte announced to the crowd that the match was over.
For a few minutes before that, Raducanu had been feeling her stomach and also placing a towel over her face in an apparent effort to control her breathing. The whole thing was reminiscent of one or two of Johanna Konta’s more emotional moments on the court, and perhaps underlines the stress of carrying British tennis hopes through one of these high-profile occasions.
It was not as if Raducanu had been uncompetitive, even if she was clearly second best overall to the relentlessly heavy-hitting Tomljanovic. Had she taken one of a pair of break points at 4-4 in the first set, the scene might have been set for another famous night on Court No 1.
Even in the second set, after losing her serve to go 2-0 down, Raducanu had held another break point and roused the partisan crowd into a frenzy of enthusiasm. Once again, though, Tomljanovic was nerveless in her response. Her reward will be a quarter-final meeting with fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty.
Who can imagine what it must have been like to occupy so much airtime, so many headlines, over the weekend? Yes, Raducanu was spared the extra spotlight of Centre Court – something that her team were said to be happy about. But in the absence of any other British player in the fourth round, she was carrying an unaccustomed weight onto the grass with her.
And then we should throw in the extra stress of the long wait before she took the court. The All England Club’s schedule was presumably influenced by the BBC’s desire to show the Raducanu match to the broadest possible audience. But it was unprecedented – at least in the era of Wimbledon night tennis under the roofs – for a woman’s match to be scheduled last on so-called “Manic Monday”.
Not only did Barty thus gain an advantage over Tomljanovic, by virtue of having finished almost seven hours earlier, but Raducanu had to sit and wait while Alexander Zverev and Felix Auger Aliassime contested a four-hour arm-wrestle. Tennis is a unique sport, in that one never knows how long a match will take, and many players spend years learning how to handle this sort of dead time.
Experience is a valuable quality when you move into the second week of a major. There is a certain value in freshness and fearlessness, but that inevitably involves a degree of naivety too. And Raducanu’s greenness showed in the way she wound up playing this match on her opponent’s terms.
Tomljanovic has only one way of playing: strike a massive ball up the guts of the court. To destabilise her, it helps to manoeuvre the ball and use touch and feel – all qualities which Raducanu is capable of deploying when she is feeling the ball perfectly on her strings.
Even from the start, she was not quite as serene as she had been against Sorana Cirstea during that magical performance on Saturday afternoon when everything flowed as naturally as a mountain stream. Her default position is similar to Tomljanovic’s – which is to bang the ball up the middle with bite and depth – but she does not have the same weight of shot or the same telescopic reach.
Her best chance was to disrupt, by introducing different angles, spins and trajectories. But she was simply too tight to move the ball out of its regular patterns, which were all but wearing a channel down the central area of the lawn.
To change the game tactically in the fourth round of Wimbledon was a challenge too far for this bright young star. Never mind. She is the sort of character who will go away and analyse where she went wrong. This whole experience was the steepest of learning curves, and as a high-powered student who is expected to return As or even A*s in her maths and economics A-levels, she will be well-placed to digest it over the coming weeks
“I am actually kind of shocked,” said Tomljanovic in a nicely judged on-court interview. “It is so bittersweet because Emma must be really hurt if she has had to retire. I am really sorry for her. It is sport – it happens – but I am really wishing her all the best.”
Raducanu is expected to release a statement on Tuesday.
That’s all folks.
Another dramatic day has come to an end. While we wait for word on the Raducanu, fingers crossed she is OK.
Tuesday marks the start of the women’s quarter-finals. You can view the order of play here.
Stay with Telegraph Sport for all the latest from Wimbledon. Till next time, take care!
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No statement from Raducanu
It was hoped that we’d get a statement from Raducanu tonight but it has been confirmed that won’t be happening.
Awaiting comment from the Wimbledon referee’s office.
Women’s quarter-final draw
Barty vs. Tomljanovic
Muchova vs. Kerber
Pliskova vs. Golubic
Jabeur vs. Sabalenka
More images of Raducanu
‘Emma Raducanu’s exhilarating Wimbledon run did not deserve this sad ending’
Our chief sports writer Oliver Brown writes: “What a heart-rending way for the Raducanu thrill ride to be derailed. If there had been constant to her remarkable breakthrough this fortnight, it was the energy she had drawn from the crowd, and the youthful joy she had given to return. For her to exit without any ceremony, with just a grave health bulletin from the chair, seemed gratingly impersonal when set against all the high-voltage enthusiasm she had brought.”
Read more here.
How it happened
More criticism of McEnroe
No press conference
There will be no press conference with Emma tonight so we won’t get to hear from her. Perhaps she will post something on social media but more likely she was speak tomorrow.
I feel bad for Emma. It appears it got a bit too much which is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about this last six weeks with [Naomi] Osaka. How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys who have been around, and the girls, how well they can handle it.
People say: ‘You were so bad on the court, you used to misbehave’. But yes, I was the norm. These guys who can keep their composure, and the girls out there, are amazing. We have to appreciate the players who are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from her experience.
Raducanu’s father speaks
Our Sport News Correspondent Tom Morgan is at Wimbledon and reports: ‘Father Ian said he was proud “as many people are”.
Asked why he thought his daughter had retired, he said: “I think it’s the level.” Asked if it was nerves, he replied: “Who knows?”
There is mounting criticism of John McEnroe following his comments on the BBC after Raducanu’s retirement.
Did day-long wait affect Raducanu?
The Briton was clearly struggling with her breathing towards the end of that first set. And those lung-busting baseline rallies would have taken their toll on her physically. But did the all-day wait for her match to get under way play it’s part in the sad conclusion of tonight’s clash? The 18-year-old’s last 16 clash didn’t get under way until 8pm, remember.
Tomljanovic on Raducanu’s retirement
‘I’m kind of shocked. I’m really sorry for her. I wish we could have finished it. It’s sport, it happens. I wish her all the best.’
An official heads out on to court and it doesn’t look good. Sadly, Emma Raducanu has retired. Unclear what the issue is or was that forced her to leave the court. All we know is that she was clutching her stomach and had trouble catching her breath.
Trainer on for Raducanu
She heads off court for treatment, holding her towel round her face, visor down. Body language again not looking good. Tomljanovic waits by her chair, going through some warm-ups before returning to the court to limber up some more.
Raducanu* 4-6, 0-3 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Tomljanovic still showing signs of nerves despite that early break this set. A double fault gifts Raducanu a free point, but the unforced errors count are creeping up for the young teenager now. The sit-down can’t come sooner enough so she can request some pills, or the trainer to help with her stomach complaint. The body language has dramatically switched. Gone is the beaming smile, the head is bowed, the confidence ebbing away.
The crowd do their best to lift her spirits at 40-30. It pays off, she somehow finds her way back to deuce. Lurking in the background is the doctor or trainer, inching to get on at the conclusion of this game. What a chance now, break point. She heads over to her towel, tries to take a deep breath. She can’t make the breakthrough, but another chance is just round the corner. She hangs in the rally but then goes for broke down the line, striking close to the post. What effort from the Briton given the medical struggle she’s having currently out there. But she can’t sustain the level. Tomljanovic finally strings two points together and cements the break.
Raducanu 4-6, 0-2 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
Tomljanovic dominating now, stringing points together with ease as she surges to two break points. Raducanu struggling with a stomach complaint or something now. Nervous cramps, perhaps, and who could blame her. She’s had to wait all day long for the biggest match of her life. She won’t let the break go easier, pushing a backhand winner down the line to save the first. But she’s heavy handed on her next groundstroke. TOMLJANOVIC BREAKS.
Raducanu* 4-6, 0-1 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Momentum with Tomljanovic now at the start of the second. A few errors flying off Raducanu’s racket now. The Brit looks a tad dejected and breathing hard out there. It’s a new territory for the youngster who puts her hand to her stomach a couple of times. The Aussie holds to 15.
Raducanu 4-6 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
Adrenaline takes over Raducanu as she chases down a short ball and inexplicably strikes long. The groans ring out. Fortunately it’s only for 15-all. The Briton regains her composure focuses on her next service motion and delivers another powerful first serve. But it’s the lengthy rallies that are still proving her undoing. Key point now at 30-all. Raducanu misses a first serve, gets the second in and then engages with the Aussie from the baseline again – but this time draws the error. Superb grit there. It’s another power-play from the back of the court during the next point, Raducanu unable to contain one forehand and allows the Aussie back in at deuce.
Raducanu shows great grit to stay toe-to-toe during the next baseline slug fest, this time targeting her backhand and makes the breakthrough. But Tomljanovic won’t go away, draws back to a second deuce. Raducanu showing nerves of steel now, slowly does it back to game point. She shows fantastic defensive skills, hanging tough behind the line, but Tomljanovic finally wears her opponent down and delivers the killer forehand.
Oor er. Pressure now as the Aussie finally brings up a set point after nearly 50 minutes of action. Raducanu misses a first serve. And then sends a forehand long. It’s the first set the young Brit has dropped this fortnight. TOMLJANOVIC BREAKS TO WIN FIRST SET.
Raducanu* 4-5 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Raducanu hanging tough, pegging the Aussie back with each point. The Brit has a chance at deuce, especially if Tomljanovic misses a first serve. She does. Raducanu gets the better of the 28-year-old from the baseline and forces another break point. Great resolve from the teenager. Raducanu makes the service return, but the ball lands in the tramlines. She tries a cheeky challenge. It just confirms what everyone knows. At least it buys her a little time, chance to regroup, force another break point. Which is exactly what she does. Needs to make it count now. She can’t. Tomljanovic whips a forehand at an acute angle that works her the space to follow up with a winner. An ace out wide turns the game around but nerves get the better of the Aussie again. Another double. Another deuce. Raducanu can’t force another break point. She’s getting closer, mind.
Raducanu 4-4 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
Fantastic aggression from Raducanu to move 30-0 but her rival is still pipping the Briton when they get into a baseline tussle, the Aussie finding her range, her target. Raducanu is best off keeping the points short. And that she does with a second ace of the game. Another comfortable hold.
Raducanu* 3-4 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Raducanu fist pumping every point now as she reels in Tomljanovic from 30-0 to draw level. Key point now. And Raducanu takes it on, pushing the Aussie behind the baseline with deep hitting and lets Tomljanovic push long. A first break point for the Brit. No way through. She pushes a backhand into the middle. The two go toe-to-toe from the baseline, exchanging heavy groundstrokes, matching each other stroke-for-stroke before Raducanu goes for broke and hits wide. The British wildcard attempts to stay in the next point, but hits into the middle again. It remains on serve.
Raducanu 3-3 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
Raducan’s service game is firing now. She surges to three game points and then wraps up a first love-hold. She looks to the crowd calling for extra support.
Raducanu* 2-3 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Service yips still affecting the Aussie as she sends down her third double of the match. Tomljanovic is still holding the edge when the two engage from the baseline, Raducanu staying toe-to-toe before then striking into the middle. It’s a third straight hold to 15 for the unseeded 28-year-old.
Raducanu 2-2 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
Superb hitting from the back of the baseline as she outlasts Tomljanovic for 30-15 and then backs it up with a first serve out wide. She’s growing in confidence now and feeling her way into the match. Crowd crank up the volume as she now holds to 15.
Raducanu* 1-2 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Raducanu trying to take Tomljanovic’s second serve early again, but she over-eggs the return. No worries, the Aussie is feeling the pressure too early doors as she sends down another double fault. She steadies the ship, moves to two game points but then strikes a forehand into the post when attempting the winner down the line. It’s another comfortable hold from the Aussie.
Raducanu 1-1 Tomljanovic* (*denotes next server)
First fist pump from Raducanu as she watches a return fly long. A double fault shows the nerves but she recovers with a solid first serve to edge 30-15 up. Raducanu bumps Eastenders off the scheduling as Emma moves into the BBC One prime TV slot. But it’s a nervy opening service game and she’s pegged back to deuce – and then hands her rival a first look at a break point.
Raducanu saves it with another crucial first serve and then draws the error from Tomljanovic’s forehand wing. Another first serve in. A big hold and that will give her great confidence.
Raducanu* 0-1 Tomljanovic (*denotes next server)
Tomljanovic opens the serving, and Raducanu already trying to get on the front foot and dictate points where she can. Slips 30-0 behind but good energy and aggressive early on. The British wildcard bouncing on the baseline, preparing for next service return, and she gets a first point on the board when her Aussie rival sends down a double. She attempts a lob during the next point, but it lands long. Tomljanovic holds to 15.
Here they come
Remember those 30-minute breaks between matches on the show courts of last week? Well they are now a thing of the past.
Tomljanovic enters the court first, before cheers ring out for the smiling Raducanu. The warm-up is under way.
The fourth seed is out! The 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime books his spot in his first grand slam quarter-final with a gruelling 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 win over Alexander Zverev.
Means we’re getting closer to Raducanu-Tomljanovic who have been waiting patiently in the locker room all day.
Wait nearly over
So the All England Club were keen to have Raducanu’s match front and centre on Manic Monday, but even they would’ve been hoping the teenager could have arrived on court a little earlier than near-on 8pm (we’re still waiting for the conclusion of the tie between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev).
Tonight’s winner will have the small matter of a quarter-final to play tomorrow. And that just happens to be the world No 1 Ash Barty, who finished her last 16 contest around the 2.30pm mark this afternoon.
The roof is now closed on Centre and Court One after light drizzle descended on south west London at around 6.30pm. Towels were even used to help dry up the court over on one under the roof.
It turns out though, that you have to go back as far as 2009 for the last time a women’s match was put third on one of the showcourts on the second Monday. Not ideal.
Saving the best until last? It’s time for Raducanu
Murray mania has been replaced by Raducanu hysteria, following the heroics of 18-year-old wildcard Emma Raducanu at this year’s Championships.
It says all about the confidence and composure emanating from the teenager that she packed a fair number of matchday kit in her suitcase for her Wimbledon debut. Her parents questioned whether she had overpacked, but it turns out their pragmatic daughter knew exactly how events would unfold for her personally, although she may not have expected to become the last Briton standing in the second week.
After winning her three matches so far in straight sets, today she runs into an opponent who came through a heated third-round clash against Jelena Ostapenko to book her place in Manic Monday.
Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic didn’t hold back in her on-court exchange with the former French Open champion, and you wonder how that has affected her focus as she prepares for only her second fourth-round major appearance of her career.
Raduancu, meanwhile, has been a picture of calm and control throughout, seemingly taking everything thrown at her in her stride. Today she has been given the primetime TV slot to showcase her talents once again to the tennis world.
Back at her old school, Newstead Wood School in Orpington, Kent, screens have been set up to allow staff and students to watch her contest.
Club members at Bromley Tennis club will also tune in to see how a former player at the club, from the age of nine to 16, fares against a player, ranked 75 in the world.
The bookies have shortened the odds on Raducanu from 300-1 at the start of the tournament to now just 18-1. How will the youngster cope with the spotlight and attention? If she approaches her tennis as she does her school work – methodical and with great determination – then maybe, just maybe, she will be gearing up to use another one of those ready-and-waiting tennis kits from her luggage for tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Getting ahead of ourselves? Quite possibly, but everyone needs a dream.