There are fresh concerns Emma Raducanu could be a doubt for Wimbledon, after she pulled out of her practice session on No 1 Court at the 11th hour on Friday.
US Open champion Raducanu has been training at the All England Club all week – albeit without full range of motion on her serve due to an abdominal injury.
She practised for an hour at Aorangi Park earlier on Friday and was then scheduled for a 2.15pm hit with former champion Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon’s second-largest show court. But she failed to show up and Muguruza’s team had to scramble to get a new player to hit with her at the last minute.
It showed Raducanu is taking a cautious approach to her Wimbledon preparations, after finding out she will be playing her first-round match against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck on Monday, along with the rest of the bottom half of the women’s draw.
Though she remained onsite after pulling out of the practice session with Muguruza, the late change of plan did breed concern over whether she is unsure of her ability to play at all.
The 19-year-old suffered her side strain on June 7, in her first and only match on grass this season at Nottingham. She has been racing to recover ever since, in the hope of being back to full fitness in time for the start of the Championships.
This caps off an unlucky pattern of injury woes, as Raducanu has struggled to get to grips with the physical toll of the WTA Tour. Her retirement at the Nottingham Open earlier this month was her third in four months, and her Australian Open campaign in January was also blighted by blisters on her hand. Her ailments have included a tight back, hip issue and now the abdominal problem which in particular affects her ability to serve.
If she does compete, world No 46 Van Uytvanck will be a tough challenge. She is one of the more difficult first-round opponents imaginable for 10th seed Raducanu. The Belgian is a strong grass player and no stranger to high-profile matches at the All England Club: she famously beat defending champion Muguruza in 2018. Raducanu has only beaten six players who have been ranked higher than Van Uytvanck since her rise to stardom at Wimbledon last year.
She was still lucky to avoid the seemingly unstoppable Iga Swiatek in the top half of the draw though. Instead, her earliest possible seeded opponent will be American Madison Keys, and she could face Alison Riske or this year’s Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the fourth round. Meanwhile Swiatek faces Jana Fett of Croatia in the first round, and has been granted the honour of opening Centre Court proceedings on Tuesday in the absence of retired reigning champion Ashleigh Barty.