No one likes losing but when things are taken out of your hands, it hurts that little bit more. Britain’s last representative in the juniors, Gabriella Taylor, was forced to retire from her quarter-final because of a virus, ending her hopes of a first grand slam title.
The 18-year-old was trailing 6-4, 1-1 against the American Kayla Day when she sat down in her chair and, after a brief consultation with the umpire, decided she was unable to carry on.
Taylor, who received a wildcard into the draw, had done well to come through her match on Wednesday when she had also felt unwell and initially she thought it had been food poisoning, having eaten chicken and pasta on site at the All England Club. That announcement had tournament officials scurrying around, checking if anyone else had been affected, but soon after her exit Taylor put their minds at ease, at least.
“Just to clarify, I have been struggling with a virus these few days, not food poisoning, forcing me to retire,” she wrote on Twitter. “Felt I could’ve got far in this slam if it wasn’t for this virus.”
It was a disappointing end to what had been an impressive campaign. Her performances had gone some way to mask the disappointingly early exits of other British hopes.
The right-hander, who also won one round in the women’s qualifying event, had looked good on her way to the last eight but looked short on energy from the start and her coach, Eric Scherer, said she was running on empty, unable to play any longer than she did.
A tidy player with a decent serve and sound technique on both wings, Taylor was not overawed in her first Wimbledon quarter-final but it was soon obvious she was not 100%.
Breathing hard between points and walking as slowly as she could within the time restraints, she fell an early break down to Day, a 16-year-old from Santa Barbara in California.
With her whippy forehand, Day made Taylor run as much as she could, knowing her opponent was suffering from illness and doing everything she could to make her life tough.
It was ruthless but a perfect strategy and though Taylor hung in there pretty well, she played one point of the third game on her serve before deciding she was unable to continue.
The match was Taylor’s final one as a junior before she concentrates on trying to continue climbing the WTA rankings, having already made it as high as No419 on the back of some fine performances.
Her first-round victory in qualifying will push her up to a career-high ranking of 377 when the list is updated on Monday and she will now head to Spain for another training camp before returning to the ITF circuit.
“My time at Wimbledon was an amazing experience this year,” Taylor said a few hours later, when she was feeling better. “I came out to win the girls’ singles but unfortunately a bad virus got the best of me.
“I did feel very comfortable with my game playing amongst the best junior girls in the world. This will be my last junior event as I will now concentrate on my WTA ranking.”
Taylor is trying to raise money through a crowd-funding site to help to pay for her training but a few wins on the Tour, adding to her career prize money of $26,473, would also help her cause. She has already played nine ITF events this year, with one semi-final appearance, in Mexico, her best effort to date.
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