The kids are alright: teenagers Emma Raducanu and Coco Gauff are into the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Great Britain's Raducanu thrilled the No.1 Court crowds on Saturday as she stormed past World No.45 Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 6-3, 7-5, to reach the second week at her home Grand Slam event.
The wildcard becomes just the fourth British teenager to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era, joining Glynis Coles (1973), Deborah Jevans (1979), and Laura Robson (2013). Raducanu, at 18 years and 239 days old, is the youngest British woman to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era.
"My emotions were, I just couldn't put them into words really," Raducanu said, in her post-match press conference. "I was so overwhelmed. The last point, I kind of just dropped my racquet and fell to the floor. It was just also instinctive and in the moment. I had no idea what just happened. Right now I'm on such a buzz and such a high."
It was a stunning result in front of a raucous crowd for the World No.338, who started the main draw as the lowest-ranked player in the field and earned the first tour-level win of her career over Vitalia Diatchenko in the opening round.
Raducanu had never beaten a Top 100 player prior to this week, but the Brit broke that duck by defeating former Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the second round, before notching her biggest win to date over Cirstea in one hour and 39 minutes.
"I knew Sorana was a very tough opponent," Raducanu said. "I just thought that playing on Court 1 at Wimbledon is what you dream of. Not many people get the opportunity to. I was like, 'Wow, this is such an experience, such an opportunity.'
"I just thought, 'Well, I'm just going to go out there and have fun.' I really think I did. I'd never played such good tennis in some of the points. I was just having so much fun."
The Brit pulled off a sterling display of winners in the clash, with 30 coming from her racquet to 18 by Cirstea. Raducanu earned five breaks of serve over one of the most resurgent players of the season.
Cirstea had come into Wimbledon up 40 spots in the rankings already this year. The Romanian had won her first title in nearly 13 years in Istanbul, reached another final at Strasbourg (losing to Barbora Krejcikova), and made the fourth round at Roland Garros.
But after an early 3-1 deficit, Raducanu quickly took control, reeling off an astounding eight games in a row to jump ahead 6-3, 3-0. It was nearly nine games on the trot before Cirstea surged back from 0-40 down to hold for 3-1 in the second set.
"I really, really respect the way that [Cirstea] competes and fights, also her game," Raducanu said. "3-0, [0-40], then she came back and came out with big serves on the big points. Hitting the ball very close to the lines. So it was difficult for me."
Cirstea broke back for 3-2, then saved five break points in a grueling tussle en route to a hold for 4-4. Raducanu, though, stayed steely, and at 6-5, earned three match points with dazzling winners.
Cirstea saved the first two, pulling back to deuce each time, but on the third, Raducanu used an error-forcing forehand at the end of a lengthy rally to seal the top victory of her career.
"I couldn't believe some of [the winners] myself," Raducanu said. "I think playing on Court 1, you're definitely inspired. You do things maybe you don't normally do."
Raducanu will now play on Monday for a spot in the quarterfinals. She will face Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, who overcame recent Eastbourne champion Jelena Ostapenko, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Familiar territory for 🇺🇸 @CocoGauff— wta (@WTA) July 3, 2021
The No.20 seed makes it to the #Wimbledon fourth round once again with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Juvan!
Faces Kerber for a place in the last eight 🔜
Simultaneously on Centre Court, Gauff prevailed 6-3, 6-3 over Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in 65 minutes. No.20 seed Gauff has now made it into the fourth round or better in four of the eight Grand Slam main draws she has contested, including her first major quarterfinal at Roland Garros last month.
Gauff's career breakthrough came when she made a stunning run to the fourth round of 2019 Wimbledon as a 15-year-old qualifier. Two years later, at the very next edition of the grass-court major, the American has returned to the second week.
Juvan had been a tricky opponent for Gauff in the past. The 20-year-old Slovene, ranked World No.102, had split her two previous meetings with Gauff, and even in the match she had lost, Juvan had held a significant lead before being defeated.
But Gauff had no problems this time around, with 21 winners to 17 unforced errors, while Juvan had those numbers flipped exactly. Gauff converted five of her seven break points, including in the final game of the match to seal victory.
"I would say this is the best I feel on my serve," Gauff said, in her post-match press conference. "Honestly, every time I play on grass, my serve feels pretty good just because the court's faster. Some balls that might not be non-returnable actually are. Same with aces."
Gauff leapt ahead 5-1 before Juvan began to draw errors from her American opponent, pulling back from the brink to reach 5-3. But sterling serving pulled Gauff through a tricky game as she wrapped up the one-set lead.
In the second set, Gauff had to save a break point to prevent herself from falling behind 2-0, but after she did that, the American took command, as she broke Juvan in the very next game to move ahead 2-1.
Gauff saved two more break points before grasping a 3-1 lead, but she was untroubled on serve the rest of the way, breaking Juvan in the final game of the match after a miscue by the Slovene.
At the previous Wimbledon in 2019, Gauff's run ended in the fourth round at the hands of eventual champion Simona Halep. This time, Gauff will face a former Wimbledon champion in the same round: 2018 titlist and former World No.1 Angelique Kerber.
"In my next match, it will be important to have a high first-serve percentage," said Gauff. "Angie is a great player, great returner, does well on grass. Does well on all surfaces, but especially grass."
"[Kerber is] a really nice person off the court," Gauff continued. "I remember when she won Wimbledon. I don't know, I guess it was a win that a lot of people weren't expecting at the time. I mean, she did it. She obviously knows what it takes to win at this level."
19th seed Karolina Muchova returns to the Round of 16 at #Wimbledon, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 75 63. Doing well to back up her QF breakout in 2019.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) July 3, 2021
Muchova has made the R16 or better in 3 of her last 5 major appearances.
Faces Badosa or Linette on Monday.
Another player who had a career breakthrough at Wimbledon 2019 won on Saturday, as No.19 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic eliminated reigning Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 7-5, 6-3.
Muchova defeated her fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the most recent edition of Wimbledon. Since then, Muchova has made her Top 20 debut and reached her maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the 2021 Australian Open.
Against 16th-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, Muchova fired 20 winners to 16 unforced errors. The Russian, on the other hand, saw her 16 winners overwhelmed by 34 unforced errors.
Pavlyuchenkova was twice up a break in the opener, at 2-0 and 4-2, both before and after a nearly two-hour stoppage due to rain. Muchova then won three games in a row to move ahead by 5-4, but Pavlyuchenkova used a blistering backhand winner to convert a break point and pull back to 5-5.
However, deep returning by Muchova helped her reclaim her lead with a break for 6-5. This time around, the Czech took her chance, coming back from 0-30 down to close out the opening frame. Muchova had less of a struggle in the second set, where, after falling behind 2-0, she won six of the last seven games.
"I just tried to keep my head more positive when I played some good points," Muchova said, after her win. "I was really happy that I closed out the first set, that I finally held my serve there, and that I [came] back when I was 0-2 in the second. Again, I was just taking it point by point."