WIMBLEDON – Here’s how hushed the crowd at No. 1 Court was before points Saturday: You could hear Emma Raducanu’s palm slap her thigh while she waited to receive serves.
Here’s how loud the place got after points: You could close your eyes and monitor the collective reactions that followed each — the “Awwwwww!” of disappointment or the on-their-feet roar of joy — as the 18-year-old became the youngest British player, female or male, to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round in more than a half-century.
Yes, Coco Gauff now has some company when it comes to being a teen in Week 2 at the All England Club. Shortly before Gauff, a 17-year-old American, made her way to the fourth round at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament for the second time in a row by beating 102nd-ranked Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-3, 6-3 at Centre Court, Raducanu dropped her racket and knelt on the grass as she finished off her 6-3, 7-5 win over 45th-ranked Sorana Cirstea of Romania.
“Right now, I’m on such a buzz and such a high,” said Raducanu, the 338th-ranked wild-card entry who is still waiting to find out the grades of her high school exams.
“When I heard the crowd just roar for the first time, I was like, ‘Wow, they’re so behind me.’ I was just feeding off of their energy,” she said after displaying both slick groundstrokes, often on the run, that helped produce 30 winners, and a resiliency when things got tight. “I’m just so excited I get to play in front of them again.”
That she will, in what is not only her Grand Slam debut but just her second tour-level event of any sort.
After Sunday’s traditional middle-of-the-fortnight day of rest — which is being done away with in 2022 — Raducanu faces Ajla Tomljanovic in the round of 16 Monday.
Tomljanovic got into a bit of a kerfuffle with Jelena Ostapenko after eliminating the 2017 French Open champion 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and accusing her of lying about needing to leave the court for a medical timeout to address an abdominal issue.
“She can say she was injured,” Tomljanovic said. "I don’t think she was.”
No. 20 seed Gauff meets 2018 champion Angelique Kerber, the only past Wimbledon winner still in the draw, while other women’s matchups include No. 1 Ash Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, against No. 14 Barbora Krejcikova, last month’s French Open champion, and No. 19 Karolina Muchova vs. No. 30 Paula Badosa.
Men’s fourth-rounders established Saturday include eight-time champion Roger Federer against No. 23 seed Lorenzo Sonego, No 2 Daniil Medvedev against No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz, No. 4 Alexander Zverev against No. 16 Felix Auger-Aliassime, and No. 7 Matteo Berrettini against Ilya Ivashka.
Medvedev dropped the opening two sets against 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic before coming through 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Auger-Aliassime advanced when Nick Kyrgios stopped playing after the second set because of a strained abdominal muscle — which also figures to end his mixed doubles partnership with Venus Williams.
“I would have been fine to lose today and not be injured,” Kyrgios said. “But it’s more heartbreaking like this.”
Federer’s match came after Gauff’s in the main stadium. They were scheduled that way for second-round matches Thursday, too.
Gauff likened herself to an opening act.
“You know how concerts, they have a big artist, then a smaller artist come before them?” she said. “That’s what I kind of like to think of it as.”
She is represented by Federer’s management company, so perhaps he was responsible for some advice Gauff received — she said the words came from a player, but wouldn’t say who it was — after her surprising run to the fourth round at the All England Club as a 15-year-old qualifier in 2019.
“You got to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes when you do something good,” Gauff said. “Even though it’s such a simple thing, it’s something that really stuck with me.”
The other tip she counted on after that breakthrough two years ago -- when she, like Raducanu now, was ranked outside the top 300, came from former First Lady Michelle Obama: “It’s OK to say ‘No’ to some things.”
That could serve Raducanu well, too, given how much of a frenzy she is stirring up for the home fans.
No British woman has won Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977, and Raducanu is the country’s last player in either singles bracket (Federer beat the lone remaining man, No. 29 Cameron Norrie).
“It's wonderful to see her grow in confidence and really rise to the occasion,” said British Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong, who first saw an 11-year-old Emma swing a racket as one of her “pupils” during a coaching certification course run by their national tennis federation. “I don’t think anyone could have expected these kind of performances from her on her debut.”
Not even Mom and Dad.
“When I was packing to come into the bubble, my parents were like: ‘Aren’t you packing too many sets of match kits?’” Raducanu said with a laugh. “I think I’m going to have to do some laundry tonight.”
AP Sports Writer Mattias Karen in London contributed to this report.
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