Indian Wells | Raducanu opens with a win

Britain’s Emma Raducanu battled back from a break down in both sets to beat Danka Kovinic, 6-2 6-3, to open her BNP Paribas Open campaign at Indian Wells, avenging her loss to the Montenegrin at the 2022 Australian Open.

It [the tonsillitis] affected me bad for the short term so I haven't prepared much. I've probably never felt so sick in my life. When it rains, it pours. This [wrist issue] and the infection – it's obviously a challenge. My preparation hasn't been ideal. I played on the weekend and then I rested it – it's how you manage things when you aren't prepared. Emma Raducanu

It was a personal triumph for the British No 1, who admitted she was unsure whether she would play the match until the last moment, and had to be woken from sleep in the locker room to make it onto court.

The 20-year old has been suffering from tonsillitis as well as a flare-up of the wrist injury that forced her to end her 2022 season early, but she walked out onto sun-soaked Stadium 1 to a loud ovation, and, after going 2-0 down to the World No 62, began to find her range to surge ahead and take the first set with a second service ace after 33 minutes.

She also went down 0-2 in the second, but, in truth her opponent did not put up much of a fight in the swirly desert conditions, and the Brit recovered again to advance to the 2nd-round where she will face Poland’s Magda Linette.

Raducanu won 6 straight games to take the first set, and won 6 of the last 7 in the second, including 4 in a row from 2-0.

Serving in the 6th game, Raducanu saved 3 break points that would have seen Kovinic draw level at 3-3, and later won the last 8 points of the match.

“It was a good match for me to get through,” Raducanu said on-court after her 1 hour 21-minute win. “I think that Danka is an extremely difficult opponent.

“I was expecting [a battle] going into today, and I’m just glad to get through. I’m happy I stuck in.

“Being a break down is difficult, of course, but, I think, mentally I just took it a point at a time.

“I’m just so happy to have got through and, hopefully, play another match in front of you guys,” she added.


Emma Raducanu was coughing into her towel during the changeovers in her 1st-round match

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

While there was little sign of the wrist trouble, Raducanu was breathing heavily throughout, and was repeatedly coughing into a towel at the changeovers, while her trademark grin was barely present in her on court interview afterwards.

“It [the tonsillitis] affected me bad for the short term so I haven’t prepared much,” Raducanu later told BBC Sport. “I’ve probably never felt so sick in my life. When it rains, it pours.

“This [wrist issue] and the infection – it’s obviously a challenge. My preparation hasn’t been ideal. I played on the weekend and then I rested it – it’s how you manage things when you aren’t prepared.”

Raducanu gets a day off before facing 20th-seeded Linette, who stands at a career-high of 21 as a result of her recent run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open.

Having reached the 3rd-round of Indian Wells a year ago, it is important for Raducanu to defend those points successfully and, encouragingly, she enters the match with a 1-0 win record over the Pole.

“She’s had a great season so far,” Raducanu said. “Her results prove that and I know that from the match we played in Seoul, that it was quite physical.

“I’m looking forward to the match and I’m just so happy to be playing another round here in Indian Wells.”

Interestingly, the 20-year-old from Bromley disclosed that she has taken a break from social media since the Australian Open.

“After AO, I deleted WhatsApp and Instagram off my phone and, after that, I’ve been living under my own little rock,” she said. “I felt, like, sometimes you go through patches where you just want to zone in on yourself, and I was very content with my life without it.

“I’ve learned, regardless of what you do, if you do good, if you do bad, people are going to come at you regardless.”


Wild-card Sofia Kenin defeated Sloane Stephens in an opening contest between two Grand Slam champions at Indian Wells on Day 2 of the WTA 1000 event

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Sofia Kenin beat Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-1 in a battle between former Grand Slam champions.

Facing each other for just the second time in their careers under the lights of Stadium 1, the former World No 2 played more contained, consistent tennis from the baseline, and did well to stay level with Stephens until breaking in the final game of the opener to pocket a one-set lead.

Kenin broke again early in the second to lead 2-0, coming through a protracted effort to break on her 6th break point of the game, and then did not face a break point until the final game.

Stephens earned 2 opportunities at 5-1 to get a break back, but, after framing an overhead long on her second chance, Kenin erased any hopes of a come-back, and served out the win after 1 hour and 21 minutes.

Kenin finished with 13 winners to 22 unforced errors and faced just 4 break points in the match, saving 3, while Stephens struck 16 winners to 33 unforced errors.


Lucky Loser Dalma Galfi upset Danielle Collins in the 1st-round at Indian Wells

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

Earlier, Dalma Galfi from Hungary, who lost in the final round of qualifying but was a late replacement for Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, stunned former Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins, 6-4 6-4.

“It’s not every day that you get a second chance after losing in qualifying, so I’m really grateful that I could be a lucky loser,” Galfi said on-court afterwards. “I was like, ‘I might as well use the chance to do something great against a great player,’ and it worked.

“I tried to be there mentally from the first second. I had some ups and downs in the second [set] as well, but I’m happy I could get through those tough moments and that’s what I’m the most happy about.”

After losing to Britain’s Katie Swan as the top qualifying seed, Galfi scored the Lucky Loser slot when Korpatsch withdrew on Wednesday morning due to illness.

In her 3rd career main-draw appearance at a WTA 1000 event, the 2015 junior US Open champion broke Collins’ serve 5 times in 1 hour, 39 minutes for her second career win at this level.

While it is Collins’ earliest loss at Indian Wells since her tournament debut in 2017, Galfi moves on to meet Caroline Garcia, the 5th seed from France, who received a 1st-round bye.

American wild-card Peyton Stearns got past Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova, 4-6 6-4 6-4, to line up a meeting with Canadian Bianca Andreescu, seeded 32, while Czech Karolina Muchova rallied from 4-1 down in the 3rd set to power past Yulia Putintseva from Kazakstan, 6-3 4-6 6-4.

Muchova was one of a trio of Czechs to advance, joining Katerina Siniakova and Marketa Vondrousova in the 2nd-round.

Siniakova had a tough test in a 7-5 6-4 win over Jule Niemeier, after the Germany served for the first set at 5-4 and also led by a break in the second, while Vondrousova eased to a 6-2 6-2 win over Canadian Rebecca Marino.

They are the next opponents respectively for No 14 seed Victoria Azarenka from Belarus and fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, the 28th seed.


Claire Liu beat Lucky Loser Anna Karolína Schmiedlova to set up a meeting with top seed Iga Swiatek on Friday

© Harry How/Getty Images

In other Thursday results at the WTA 1000, American Claire Liu edged past Slovakian Lucky Loser Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 7-6(5) 6-3, and will face top seed Iga Swiatek on Friday, while her compatriot Bernarda Pera went the distance against Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti, 7-5 4-6 6-3, Sorana Cirstea dispatched Aussie qualifier Kimberley Birrell, 6-3 6-2, and Emma Navarro beat Caty McNally, 1-6 6-1 6-1, in a battle between two American wild-cards.

Another Lucky Loser, Magdalena Frech from Poland, who stood in when America’s Lauren Davis pulled out with an abdominal injury, made the most of her second chance by defeating Belgian Matyna Zanevska, 4-6 6-4 6-2; Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz was a 6-3 7-5 winner over Italy’s Elsabetta Cocciaretto; Varvara Gracheva from Russia saw off Ysaline Bonaventure from Belgium, 6-2 6-2; and Germany’s Tatjana Maria took out another Italian, Jasmine Paoline, 7-5 6-1.


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