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Raducanu takes up Murray mantle to thrill Wimbledon

The king may have departed, but Wimbledon has been left saluting its Centre Court queen as Emma Raducanu pulled off surely her best win since her incredible US Open triumph.

The 21-year-old Briton, who's endured so many injury setbacks since her outlandish 2021 victory as a qualifier at Flushing Meadows, looks ready to fill a void left with Andy Murray's farewell by the way she outplayed No.9 seed Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-3 to reach the last-16 on Friday.

It conjured up some uncanny memories of that fabulous run in New York when Raducanu, then 18, powered past Sakkari in the semi-final for the loss of exactly the same amount of games.

Could a repeat run be on the cards? It may be too early to suggest that, but there were signs here that Raducanu, after all her setbacks, is now delivering on that rare talent again.

The Centre Court denizens, still feeling life may never be quite the same without their blessed Andy after his farewell celebrations on Thursday night, will certainly be hoping so as the first signs of Emma fever since her breakthrough run to the 2021 last-16 at SW19 began to sweep the citadel again.

Having never beaten a top-10 player in her career, even during her US Open triumph, Raducanu has now accounted for two in a fortnight, after knocking out Jessica Pegula in Eastbourne.

She'll be a big favourite to reach the quarter-finals too, up against New Zealand's surprise packet Lulu Sun, even if nobody will be more aware than Raducanu of what an inspired qualifier can do.

The victory, which guarantees her place back in the world's top 100, left Raducanu beaming with joy.

"Today was really up there with the most fun I've had on a tennis court," she told the crowd.

Sakkari, who's never got past the third round at Wimbledon, struggled from the start, handing Raducanu an immediate break of serve.

The Briton never looked back, conjuring up some brilliant shots including an inch-perfect lob which propelled her into a 5-2 lead.

There was to be no British joy elsewhere, though, as the dream run of home qualifier Sonay Kartal, who used to play Raducanu as a 12-year-old, was dismantled ruthlessly by No.2 seed Coco Gauff 6-4 6-0.

Gauff got tested by the world No.298 initially but the US Open champion ran away with the second set to line up a fourth-round match with fellow American, and 19th seed, Emma Navarro, who defeated Diana Shnaider.

French Open finalist Jasmine Paolini has quickly established herself as a showcourt favourite at Wimbledon and received a rapturous ovation as she continued the Italian success story at this year's event by outplaying former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

She's the first Italian woman to make the second week at each of the first three grand slams in a single year.