Emma Raducanu dominates Elise Mertens to secure best grand slam run since 2021

Emma Raducanu brushed aside Elise Mertens at Wimbledon to reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time since her US Open triumph.

Back on Court One for the first time since her breakthrough run to the fourth round here three years ago ahead of that historic New York fortnight, Raducanu seized control from the start and raced to a 6-1 6-2 victory.

In 2021, the occasion was ultimately too much for the then teenager and she retired with breathing difficulties against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Raducanu has lived a veritable lifetime of experiences since then, many of them negative, but has had a smile plastered on her face at the All England Club this year and appears finally at ease with her place in the sport.

If she can maintain the form she showed against Belgian Mertens, ranked one place outside the seedings at 33, she could yet do some serious damage in this tournament.

Many of the games were close but, on the key points, it was Raducanu who came up with the moments of magic, be that a precision lob, a knifed drop shot or the sort of searing groundstrokes with which she made her name.

Playing under the roof on a grey, drizzly day, Raducanu lit up Court One with a run of five games in a row to start the match.

Emma Raducanu runs for a forehand
Emma Raducanu runs for a forehand (John Walton/PA)

She broke the Mertens serve in the second game with a drop shot that her opponent, the world number one in doubles and a former Australian Open semi-finalist, could only net.

Raducanu then saved a break point to make it 3-0 and broke again with a forehand pass on to the sideline. Mertens finally got on the scoreboard to prevent a love set but Raducanu withstood more pressure to maintain her momentum, clinching it with a big serve.

When 28-year-old Mertens recovered from 0-40 in the opening game of the second set, it could have been a crucial moment, but Raducanu simply raised her level even higher.

A backhand pass drilled beyond Mertens gave her the break for 2-1, and from there she did not look back, bouncing to the net in jubilation after her opponent’s final return drifted long.

“I feel so, so welcome here,” said Raducanu. “Court One is my favourite court. I think I played some really good tennis today, I’m really pleased. I’m over the moon to be playing here and just to extend my stay by one more day.

“I knew all the hard yards and the hard work I’ve been doing would lead to something and I’m just so happy to reap some of the rewards in Wimbledon.”