Sonay Kartal lands Wimbledon spot but teenager Hannah Klugman misses out

Teenager Hannah Klugman fell short of reaching the Wimbledon main draw but Sonay Kartal had a special reason to celebrate her progress having overcome serious health problems.

Kartal, who was Emma Raducanu’s main rival as a junior, has previously been held back by injuries during her career and feared she may be sidelined for the whole year.

“I had a couple of health issues at the start of this year,” said the 22-year-old, who played only two tournaments between September and April.

“Pretty serious. I won’t go into the detail but I didn’t think I’d be on tour this year. I managed to get back after a few months and go straight in the deep end and play some big events. I’m super proud of that.

“It was tough. Sitting back on the sidelines and watching all your friends play. It was pretty scary at the time but I’m super grateful that I’ve got great people and great doctors around me that have made a massive effort to get me back on court.

“We took it slow, we didn’t want to rush it. I’ve been sensible, I’ve listened to my body and it’s feeling in a really good place.”

Kartal battled through the first two rounds but thumped Russian Erika Andreeva – the older sister of teenage sensation Mirra – 6-3 6-1 on Thursday.

The Brighton player has received wild cards the last two years but was happy to earn her spot this time and feels in a strong position as she chases a first main-draw win.

“Having played there the last two years, I really wanted to be back there this year,” she said.

“I don’t think I deserve (a wild card) this year. I’ve been out a lot and there are people who have played and done really well and they deserve it. I’m grateful I’m even on the court at the minute.

“Having to earn my spot I think makes it a little bit better for me. I’m very happy with that match as well. It was a big occasion and I don’t think it really got to me at all. I’m proud of that.

“I’m going into it knowing I’ve played three great matches this week against three great opponents, so that’s definitely going to give me a lot of confidence for sure.

Hannah Klugman hits a forehand during her qualifying loss to Alycia Parks
Hannah Klugman hits a forehand during her qualifying loss to Alycia Parks (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“I’ve taken two losses there the last two years so I’m hoping that it’s third time lucky. I think I’m going into this year being able to handle it much better.”

Fifteen-year-old Klugman was looking to become the youngest Wimbledon qualifier since Coco Gauff but she was overpowered in a 6-3 6-3 loss to American Alycia Parks, who has shot up to 40 in the rankings after winning a title on grass in Italy last week.

The teenager was not downhearted, though, saying: “I’m definitely proud of myself this week. If you’d told me at the start of the week I’d make last round qualies, I’d definitely take that.

“Obviously I’m disappointed with today, so close but so far away at the same time. She was too good today, she was serving amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever played someone with such big shots. She’s 40 in the world so to see the level was good.”

Klugman will now focus on the junior competition, where she will be one of the favourites as the world number six.

There is a lot of excitement about the teenager’s potential, and her run this week has brought her to the attention of a lot more tennis fans, with the show court at Roehampton packed on Thursday.

She said: “I’ve tried to stay off my phone. I didn’t reply to many messages last night and stayed in my little bubble.

“It’s amazing to have all the support. It’s not normal. I tried to enjoy it today. I’ve enjoyed this week so much but it’s just the beginning.

“I’m still hiding a little bit. I definitely do (like the attention). I love that people come to watch me and support me. It comes with its negatives a little bit but I definitely thrive in it.”

Kartal’s success means Britain will have 19 singles players in the main draws on Friday, the most at Wimbledon this century.

Another name seemingly now certain to join them is seven-time champion Novak Djokovic, who practised on Centre Court with Jannik Sinner on Thursday.