Emma Raducanu defends decision to miss mixed doubles as she exits Wimbledon

Emma Raducanu defended her “no-brainer” decision to pull out of mixed doubles with Andy Murray after her Wimbledon campaign came to a disappointing end.

The 21-year-old denied Murray a final match at the All England Club after withdrawing from their scheduled first-round encounter on Saturday citing a sore wrist.

With her fourth-round singles match on Sunday afternoon against qualifier Lulu Sun, Raducanu did not want to take any risks, but she was unable to progress to the quarter-finals, falling to a 6-2 5-7 6-2 defeat.

The former US Open champion received plenty of criticism, with Judy Murray branding the decision “astonishing” before insisting on Sunday that she was being sarcastic.

Raducanu shrugged off the intervention, saying: “I’m sure she didn’t mean it.”

She insisted it was not a mistake to accept the invitation, saying: “I was feeling fine, then yesterday morning just woke up with stiffness. I have to prioritise myself, my singles and my body.

“I think it was the right decision. I stand by the decision. Obviously it was a tough decision, though, because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Emma Raducanu slipped over early in the third set
Emma Raducanu slipped over early in the third set (John Walton/PA)

“Of course, I didn’t want to take his last match away from him. But, at the end of the day, I think a lot of the players in a similar situation would have done the same thing.

“Going into the tournament, I wasn’t expecting to make fourth round. So, for me, it was a no-brainer (to accept the invitation). He didn’t ask me, ‘If you’re still in the singles, are you going to play?’ Given how I woke up yesterday morning, it was for me a no-brainer.”

Murray was honoured in an emotional farewell ceremony on Centre Court on Thursday after losing in the first round of the men’s doubles with his brother Jamie but he had geared himself up for another run-out and the PA news agency understands he was devastated to miss out.

Asked about Murray’s reaction when he was told the news, Raducanu said: “Obviously (he was) disappointed because it’s his last match. But what a champion. I think that hopefully he’ll play in the Olympics and have another farewell there.”

Raducanu admitted the unfortunate situation cast a shadow over one of the most important matches of her career, with the former US Open champion looking to reach the quarter-finals at a grand slam for the second time.

“I think with every decision, people are entitled to their opinions,” she said. “Of course, there was a bit of a cloud around the decision.”

The boot was on the other foot here, with Raducanu cast in the position of hot favourite against a player who had never won a main-draw match at a slam until beating eighth seed Zheng Qinwen in the opening round.

Sun, a New Zealander with a heritage even more cosmopolitan than her opponent’s, took the match to Raducanu from the first point, quickly opening up a 3-0 lead and imposing herself with her vicious left-handed forehand.

Lulu Sun reacts to beating Emma Raducanu
Lulu Sun reacts to beating Emma Raducanu (John Walton/PA)

Raducanu was unable to find any real penetration off that wing but hung on grimly in the second set and got her reward for some courageous break-point saves when Sun tightened up a little in the final game.

The home crowd roared their approval but a deathly hush fell over Centre Court shortly afterwards when Raducanu took a nasty tumble behind the baseline and sought medical treatment.

The main issue appeared to be her back, which she had been clutching at various points, and in the third set her resistance ran out.

“I’ve been managing a stiff back since yesterday,” said Raducanu. “I think it was just exaggerated today. I was feeling it during the match. I think especially on serve it was affecting me a bit. But I gave everything I had on the day.”

On her wrist, she added: “With the balls being quite heavy on the grass, it’s just something that I have to manage.”

Emma Raducanu smiles during a press conference
Emma Raducanu smiles during a press conference (Joe Toth/AELTC)

Raducanu is not playing in the Olympics and her next tournament will instead be at the Citi Open in Washington at the end of this month.

She will head into the North American hard court swing in good spirits, saying: “I beat two top-10 players within two weeks, which is a pretty big deal for me, seeing as the whole US Open even I didn’t play one top-10 player. I think I have to take confidence from that.

“Six months ago, when I was starting out after surgery, I would have signed for fourth round at Wimbledon. Of course I’m disappointed. Of course I want more. I think everything does happen for a reason. It just fuels the fire and makes me more hungry.

“You don’t want things to happen too easily and too quickly. I had that before. I don’t necessarily want just a massive spike.”

Sun, who will next play Croatian Donna Vekic, was in tears on court at the end, and she is the first qualifier to make it this far in the women’s singles for 14 years.