Sonay Kartal hopes for Centre Court date after setting up Coco Gauff clash

Sonay Kartal is eager to experience a childhood dream and play on Centre Court after she set up a plum third-round tie with Coco Gauff with a 6-3 5-7 6-3 victory over Clara Burel.

World number 298 Kartal had to qualify for the Championships after battling with undisclosed health problems for much of the past year, but followed up a career-best win over 29th seed Sorana Cirstea on Monday with a slice of history two days later.

Kartal’s triumph over Burel made her the first British female qualifier to make round three since 1997 and the first home player through to the last 32 at the All England Club.

Sonay Kartal hits a forehand
Sonay Kartal fought her way into the third round (Mike Egerton/PA)

US Open champion Gauff is up next on Friday and her star appeal could result in the tie being scheduled on Wimbledon’s main court, which Kartal visited for the first time with her family more than a decade ago.

“Those are the moments you dream of as a little kid. If it is Centre Court, yeah, I’ll be super excited, super proud to be on that court. It’s a really special thing,” Kartal said.

“I’ve got a picture in my room. I have an older brother. With my mum and my dad, we were on Centre Court. We got lucky, we had really good tickets. I think I was seven maybe?

“Yeah, obviously I grew up coming here as a kid. To be able to walk on to one of those courts will be a dream come true.”

The British number nine could not recall who they would have seen in SW19 many years ago, but predicted it would most likely have been Roger Federer.

Roger Federer hits a backhand in 2009 on Centre Court
Roger Federer was a regular on Centre Court when Sonay Kartal was growing up (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Kartal had been expected to finish her second-round match before Gauff got under way on Court One at 1pm, but rain delayed her start by two hours and then another intermittent shower halted play after seven minutes of action.

Break points were saved by Kartal in each of her first two service games once play resumed and they proved crucial as she seized upon a string of double-faults by Burel to break and take the opener.

Another break at the start of the second for Kartal, who was Emma Raducanu’s big rival as a junior, was swiftly followed by a second with Burel out-of-sorts.

However, with the finish line in sight Burel started to swing freely and land her shots, with Kartal’s 3-0 lead wiped out as the world number 45 reeled off seven of the next nine games.

The decider stayed on serve until the fifth game, which went the way of the Brighton right-hander after another booming forehand clipped the net cord and landed on Burel’s side.

Kartal would not be denied this time and pencilled in a clash with Gauff, who beat Anca Todoni in 66 minutes, with a deft volley at the net to earn a standing ovation.

She added: “It’s going to be a super tough match. There’s a reason why she is number two in the world.

“At the end of the day, I’m going to put all of that aside. Ultimately it’s who you’re playing the other side of the net.

“I think I’m going to go on there, got nothing to lose and I’m just going to enjoy the moment. Give it everything and see what I can do.”

Regardless of the result, the 22-year-old plans to mark her maiden run to the Wimbledon third round with a tattoo after she revealed the significance of ink on her left wrist.

“Let’s say maybe the most meaningful one for me, I’ve got one on my wrist that is a symbol of bravery,” Kartal explained.

“I lost a lot of matches from playing too safe. I kind of had enough of losing and was like, I need to change something. If I have it on my wrist, I can see it. It’s a little reminder at change of ends.

“Maybe despite the outcome, whatever it is, I think there could be one potentially.”