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Emma Raducanu draws motivation from England's 'ugly' Euro win for Wimbledon victory

Emma Raducanu took inspiration from England's narrow escape at Euro 2024 by "winning ugly" in her opening match at Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old had a slice of good fortune when her scheduled opponent, 22nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, withdrew on Monday morning because of illness.

Her replacement, Mexican lucky loser Renata Zarazua, appeared a much kinder prospect on paper but the world number 98 is a tricky player and Raducanu survived some difficult moments in a 7-6 (0) 6-3 victory on Centre Court.

In her on-court interview, Raducanu referenced England's scrappy win over Slovakia in Germany, saying: "Like watching the football last night, winning ugly — it all counts."

Raducanu knows what it is like to face intense scrutiny and expectation, and she added in her press conference: "Last night, I had a feeling that they would still turn it around.

"The people I was watching with were like, 'I don't know'. It was getting to the 93rd minute. (I said), 'I have a feeling, I have a feeling'. Then Jude (Bellingham) hit that insane goal.

"When I'm watching, I'm listening to the commentary, I can almost picture it. It's just the way the story flips, depending on how the result is going.

"For sure, I sympathise with the players who are being told they need to play a lot better, need to play perfect. I think at the end of the day it's about getting over the line.

"Today I used it as motivation. It doesn't need to be beautiful, it doesn't need to be perfect. As long as you get through the opening rounds, you give yourself another chance to play better.

"For circumstances to align, as long as you're still in the tournament, you keep giving yourself that chance."

Raducanu was making her return to Centre Court two years on from her last appearance following wrist and ankle surgeries.

She next faces experienced Belgian Elise Mertens, which will not be an easy match, but, with eighth seed Zheng Qinwen losing and third seed Aryna Sabalenka pulling out injured, it already looks to be an open section of the draw.

Raducanu, though, will not be getting ahead of herself having experienced so many setbacks since her 2021 US Open triumph.

"As I said in the first press conference, I'd be over the moon if I won my first round here," she said. "And I really am. I feel just the joy to be on site, the joy to be part of the buzz. I'm really just enjoying myself.

"I think that now, having had a few wins under my belt, I'm really cherishing every single one because I know how difficult it is to be on the flip side of it.

"Results wise, I have no expectations. I just have expectations of myself to really put myself on the line on the court and fight and not let any frustrations get to me."

But, reminded that her first-round win in New York three years ago also came against a lucky loser, Raducanu said with a smile: "For sure, it did pop into my head a little bit."

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