Wimbledon 2018

Wimbledon 2018: Katie Swan may be out but is not down as she eyes the next Major

Katie Swan loses in the second round of Wimbledon to Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania

She is just 19 years old, and had until this summer played just one Major match, as a wild card at Wimbledon, in 2016—she lost in qualifying last year.

But when one of the best players in men’s tennis, a two-time Wimbledon and Olympic champion, Andy Murray, signs you up to his own management company, becomes your mentor, texts you advice, goes out for team dinners, and more, you know Katie Swan promises to be a cut above.

That she was the sole home player in contention on the third day of The Championships also ensured she caught the eye of the home nation. Here at a career-high ranking of No204, she will break into top 200 after the tournament, for she pulled off the win of her career so far against the No36-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu—the first tour-level win of her career in only her fifth WTA-level tournament.

She was set to quadruple her career-earnings with that one 6-2, 6-2 win—the prize money for reaching the second round is £63,000. But just like Kyle Edmund before her—also a young Briton who has benefited from the guidance of Murray—she was not going to indulge herself.

“I definitely need a new phone case, that’s the first thing. My phone case is falling apart. That’s what I’m going to do first. After that, I don’t know yet.”

But prior to her opening match, she had already told the BBC:

“It will all go towards my coaching and travel. Being a professional tennis player is relatively expensive.”

Here, then, is a young woman with her head screwed on, and her eye on the long-term. And make no mistake, she is ambitious.

“It’s so exciting. [Playing at Wimbledon] is something that as a little girl I dream about. To get a wild card, I was so grateful to get that. And this year I’ve been working really hard. The last few weeks I’ve shown more myself than anyone I can compete with the top girls.”

The level went up a notch in the second round, however, in the shape of a seed, No28 Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Not that the Romanian was hugely experienced on grass: this was her main draw debut at Wimbledon, and just her fourth grass event at tour level. A year ago, she was ranked 213, now she was at a career-high after a strong showing on the British grass before arriving at SW19, including the semi-finals at the Premier event in Birmingham. She also counted three top-10 wins to her name this year.

And the leftie proved too much of a handful for the young Briton. The breaks came thick and fast once Swan had battled through a long second game, fighting off a break point and five deuces. Buzarnescu got her breakthrough, held for 3-0, and broke again, with Swan looking tight.

The Briton took Buzarnescu to deuce in the fifth game, but never worked a break point as the set headed to its 6-0 conclusion after just 30 minutes.

Swan had made 13 unforced errors to only three by her opponent, but the second set saw signs that the Briton was settling down. She broke in the first game, only to be broken straight back, but could not convert another chance in third game.

Buzarnescu broke again to take a 4-1 lead, and although the Briton held to love and then broke her opponent to even things up, 3-4, it was short-lived. Another poor serving game from Swan brought the decisive break, and Buzarnescu served it out, 6-3.

Things will get a whole lot tougher for Buzarnescu now, however. She takes on No7 seed Karolina Pliskova for a place in the fourth round. They have played each other only once before, in qualifying in Nottingham—on grass—six years ago, and it was a corker, decided in Pliskova’s favour 7-5 in the third set.

As for Swan, it was of course a disappointing end to Wimbledon, and not in the style and form she may have wished for.

But she will be back, with many more matches under her belt, and many more wins. She still has big ambitions, but also an eye on immediate targets, as she again told the BBC:

“The end goal is winning Grand Slams, 100 percent. Short term though, I have just recently got my ranking up enough to be in the qualifying for the US Open in New York so I want to play my best tennis there.”

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