Amidst rife rumours that Wimbledon and the LTA are about to bow to pressure from the WTA and ATP on the issue of not allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the UK grass court swing this summer, the Ukrainian flag flies high above Stadium 1 alongside the Stars and Stripes, as it did last year, at the BNP Paribas Open, on Indian Wells’s prime show court in a poignant gesture of solidarity.
The same issue that I had last year has stared to flare back up. I've definitely been managing my load. It's something that has just come back, so I'm trying to be as cautious as possible. I'm going to do everything I can to be there tomorrow. I think we always play through pain and it's just a matter of how much can you take - I'm looking forward to hopefully being out there tomorrow. Emma Raducanu
Britain’s Katie Swan was out on Stadium 8, where she lost in straight sets to Spain’s Cristina Bucsa, 7-6 7-5, in the 1st-round of the main draw, having fought her way through qualifying.
The 23-year-old British No 6, who is ranked 156 in the world, was left ruing her missed opportunities after getting off to the perfect start breaking Bucsa in the opening game, and then holding for a 2-0 lead.
Her second serve, though, proved her undoing as the Spaniard broke back and levelled, before they traded another 4 breaks between them on their way to the tiebreak, where Swan failed to convert a set point at 6-5 and leaving the 25-year old Bucsa to turn the opener in her favour.
Swan was twice up a break in the second, and lost 5 set points at 5-4, ultimately allowing Bucsa to hold before the Spaniard broke her in the 11th game.
Racking up 7 double faults in the set, Swan fell 0-40 down, and Bucsa took her 2nd match point to set up a tie with 6th seed Coco Gauff in round two.
It has been a positive experience for Swan after she reached the main draw of a WTA 1000 event for the first time, the only Briton of four to come through qualifying.
British No 1 Emma Raducanu, who pulled out of the Eisnehower Cup charity exhibition event on Tuesday night but practised on Wednesday, hopes to be fit to play Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic on Thursday on Stadium 1.
With strapping on both of her wrists, Raducanu had an hour’s practice session with her coach Sebastian Sachs.
“The same issue that I had last year has stared to flare back up,” Raducanu told BBC Sport. “I’ve definitely been managing my load. It’s something that has just come back, so I’m trying to be as cautious as possible.
“I’m going to do everything I can to be there tomorrow.
“I think we always play through pain and it’s just a matter of how much can you take – I’m looking forward to hopefully being out there tomorrow.”
The 20-year old from Bromley has been able to play just 4 matches so far this season.
Meanwhile, World No 1 Iga Swiatek, who is the top seed at Indian Wells, was asked about the pressure she is feeling these days.
The 21-year-old admits that her breakthrough year in 2022 has spoiled her, adding: “[When I was young] I didn’t even dream about it because I thought it wasn’t possible. [Being No 1] is a feeling anyone would want, but, for sure, it comes with a lot of pressure and expectations.
“I felt the pressure increase strongly because I won the WTA 500 [in Doha], but, still, I lost in [the Dubai final] and people were surprised…[and] critical.
“Last year, before my huge [37-match] streak and before winning all these tournaments, I would have been so happy with the result. But because of those comments, I felt like [reaching the Dubai final] was not enough.
“So I’m trying not to read a lot of these things. I don’t want it to influence me because I’m happy with the work I’ve done and how I played in Doha. But this is an example of how people’s attitudes change a little bit and I don’t think it’s a positive change…[But] I think I’m doing good.”
In other on court action on Day 1 of the WTA 1000, Shelby Rogers won an all-American showdown with Katie Volynets to kick off the 1st-round, while Czech teenagers Linda Fruhvirtova and Linda Noskova also won through.
Rogers outlasted 21-year old Volynets, 6-4 4-6 6-1, after a 2 hour 20 minute duel.
“Two Americans, she definitely has a very bright future, and unfortunately only one of us could win today,” Rogers said on court after her win. “She’s one of the nicest girls I’ve met on tour, and I look forward to seeing her more.”
The 17-year-old Fruhvirtova, who made her first Grand Slam Round of 16 at this year’s Australian Open, blasted back from a first-set rout to defeat Egypt’s Mayar Sherif, 0-6 6-2 6-3.
The World No 53 was down a break at 3-2 in the third set, but reeled off 4 games in succession from there to advance, while 18-year-old Noskova, ranked one spot below her at No 54, garnered a 7-6(7) 6-1 win over Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.
Noskova, who made her first WTA singles final at Adelaide in January, needed over an hour to grind out the first set from 3-1 down, saving a set point in the tiebreak, and then rolled to a quick 5-0 lead in the second en route to her first match-win at Indian Wells.
Another American, however, Alycia Parks, who achieved much of her success indoors, was dispatched by Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, 6-1 6-1, continuing her struggles after the Tour switched to outdoor tennis and losing just 57 minutes.
Wild-card Elizabeth Mandlik defeated fellow American Alison Riske-Amritraj, 6-3 5-7 7-6(1) to also reach the 2nd-round on Wednesday.
Mandlik, ranked No 155 and daughter of multiple Grand Slam winner Hana Mandlikova, will face No 15 seed Petra Kvitova next.
The loss continues a poor run of form for Riske-Amritraj, who suffered her 6th consecutive loss this season, and has only won 1 match in 7 tournaments so far.
In other Wednesday results, Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson took down last week’s Austin champion, Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine, 7-5 5-7 7-5, in 3 minutes shy of 3 hours, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus took care of the tricky Estonian, Kaia Kanepi, 6-3 7-6(5), and Evgeniya Rodina from Russia saw off France’s Alizé Cornet, 6-2 7-4.