Watching Emma Raducanu this week, I guess it has brought back memories of a German boy who arrived at Wimbledon as a teenager and did OK.
The best piece of advice I could give her is taken from Kipling’s poem, so identified with Wimbledon: ‘Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.’
Of course, when I was playing it was easier to close off from outside distractions because we did not have social media, mobiles and the internet.
I am sure the team around her will be trying to protect her from all this stuff, and I remember the people around me did a good job with this.
Emma Raducanu has had an incredibly impressive first week as the teenage made the last-16
The Brit will face Ajla Tomljanovic in the next round, and has a good chance to keep pushing on
They were trying to cover me from all potential distractions as the interest grew and it helped that my English was so poor at the time that I did not understand the newspapers anyway.
From my experience, it will help Emma that she is so young and new to this that she will not understand a lot of what is going on around her. I certainly didn’t.
At that age you do not comprehend the history of the sport and you are not supposed to, and things which later in your career can add to the pressure seem nice and fun.
That is why she needs to make this run last as long as possible and try to seize the moment immediately — because next time she returns to SW19 it will not be like this for her.
The good news is that she is reacting so positively to everything and clearly enjoying it. Long may that last.
The 18-year-old has a genuine chance of winning, if she can keep away from the pressure
She has a decent chance on Monday against Ajla Tomljanovic, who is clearly a good player while not being one of the favourites. I do not think Tomljanovic will have benefited from her third-round match, which was blighted by the bad words with her opponent.
I don’t like to see that, arguing with the other player on court or in the press conference. You can do that elsewhere.
Looking at Emma, I would describe her as a natural tennis player and a very good athlete who has things you cannot really teach or coach. There seems to be that instinct of knowing where to move and where to hit the ball.
What I really liked was the way she reacted to the setback on Saturday when she was up 3-0 in the second set, only for her opponent to draw level.
She took it calmly and was not frightened. I always think you have that or you don’t have that.
Raducanu proved her natural talent against Sorana Cirstea, sending the home crowd wild
What happens this week? I know we have said it before but women’s tennis really is unpredictable right now.
It makes it more interesting in some ways but there is also a downside to not having an especially dominant group.
I like Ash Barty’s game but I would not wish to pick anyone above all the others. Someone like Angelique Kerber, the only past Wimbledon champion left, knows how to win the big tournaments.
Genuinely, I think all 16 players left in the singles draw have a chance of winning it and that, of course, includes Emma Raducanu.
Worth the wait
This has not been an easy Wimbledon to put on but I think the All England Club would have settled for what has happened in the first week.
Yes, some of the rules are inconsistent and do not make much sense, such as seeing coaches and staff often close to the public. The traffic here has not been great.
Yet it was never going to be perfect and a lot of things that could have gone wrong have not gone wrong. There have not been a lot of Covid-19 cases among the players, for example, which seven days ago looked like it might happen.
After the cancellation last year and Covid lingering, the tournament was going to be a struggle
Wimbledon has never been put on before in this way and there will still be uncertainties around this coming week.
We will see what happens but I have really enjoyed it so far, there have been a lot of good matches and there have been great storylines.
A particular pleasure has been to catch up with old friends I have not bumped into for a while, like John McEnroe, who I have not seen for 18 months. Most of all I am just pleased we are seeing tennis in front of enthusiastic crowds.
Brits on the rise
It has been a very encouraging few weeks for the Brits and it is great to see an outline of some really good players who are going to carry the game here in the future. Suddenly it is looking a lot brighter.
I covered Jack Draper’s match against Novak Djokovic last Monday and I was impressed with what I saw. He has a powerful game, is a left-hander, and all the fundamentals are there.
You can see him rising quite fast to the top 50. After that it is always difficult to tell with the young ones, but he is certainly good.
In addition to Emma Raducanu, Katie Boulter showed how good she can be in making it close against second seed Aryna Sabalenka. Dan Evans has established himself in the top 30, while Cam Norrie looks a definite to me to make the top 20 and is still improving.
Jack Draper (left) impressed in his face-off with the great Novak Djokovic, as the Brits improve
Much has been said about Andy Murray and I was happy to see him back.
Making the third round was an achievement after what he has been through, even if he was a bit slower when he got there.
Andy has to sort out in his head what he wants to get back to. Is it to see what happens if he can get a run of tournaments? Is to get back to the top 50 or try for the top 10?
It is an individual sport — he can decide what to try for and he has nothing to prove.
But with or without him, the future is looking more optimistic for GB.
Novak WON’T walk it
Some of the men left in the draw are being underestimated, and Novak Djokovic has another opponent that should not be discounted — history.
The nearer he gets to the final and a possible 20th Grand Slam title, the more this pressure will build and the more he will be reminded of it.
I know Novak well and have worked with him and, while he is an incredible athlete and competitor, he is not a machine. He will feel it, so I do not think the destiny of the men’s singles is a foregone conclusion.
I also think we are still so preoccupied with legends like Roger Federer and Andy Murray that we sometimes overlook some of the other men, who in the coming years are going to be Grand Slam champions.
Djokovic is expected to waltz to the Wimbledon crown but he’ll face obstacles before then
It would not be a great surprise to me if the men’s finalist from the bottom of the draw comes from the winner of a likely quarter-final between Matteo Berrettini and Alex Zverev.
The Italian and the German have so much natural power, and they are a real force on grass. I don’t think Federer would relish playing either of them.
Friday night was about Murray’s exit but do not count out his conqueror, Denis Shapovalov.
He is only 22, a fantastic left-handed shotmaker and he likes the big occasion. I see a lot of potential improvement in him as well.
Djokovic will not be viewing this title as a certainty, I can assure you, and nobody else should either.
The Serb is closing in fast on that golden 20th Slam and the pressure is mounting with that
It’s coming home!
As a football fan I have been enjoying the Euros, although obviously I was disappointed with the England-Germany result last week.
However, as an anglophile who has made his home in this country for many years, I can honestly say I am pleased to see Gareth Southgate’s team going so well, and I hope they go on to win the tournament.
Come on England!