British No 1 Emma Raducanu enjoyed a welcomed renaissance against the odds at Indian Wells this week, where she reached the Round of 16 at the WTA 1000 BNP Paribas Open and acquitted herself well against the World No 1 Iga Swiatek.
The British grass court season is always one my favourite times of the year and it was where I made my tour debut two summers ago. I’m really excited to be making my debut at the LTA’s Rothesay Classic in Birmingham this year, and hearing the support from all the fans who come out to support us in an event that has so much prestige and history. Emma Raducanu
Despite a promising start to the match, Raducanu struggled against Swiatek’s consistent accuracy, and she went down to the 21-year old Pole, 6-3 6-1, with a mounting unforced error count.
“I think that Iga played a very good level and showed why she is number one in the world,” Raducanu told BBC Sport. “She was very ruthless with the way that she played.
“I think I was able to stay competitive for the beginning of the match but, ultimately, she ground me down and, by the end of it, I was just taking way too long to recover from one rally.”
Nevertheless, Raducanu has produced some of her best tennis this week since taking the US Open title in 2021, winning 3 consecutive matches and taking out Danka Kovinic, Magda Linette, the 20th seed, and Beatriz Haddad Maia, the World No 13, along the way while dropping just 1 set.
‘’I think, overall, I can say it was a positive week for me, the team, I think we had a run of three really good matches,” Raducanu said after her loss to Swiatek ‘’It was a good experience today playing Iga on that court at night.
“I think the conditions are very slow and heavy and favoured her. But, yeah, it’s just good to see where I’m at.”
The 20-year-old has been hampered by injuries and illnesses since winning her maiden Grand Slam, including, most recently, a recurring wrist issue and a bout of tonsillitis, which threatened her participation at Indian Wells.
‘’I think it’s been a good 10 days,” she added. ”I haven’t trained particularly much before the tournament, but I feel, like, I’ll probably take a day to recover tomorrow, physically, because since the tournament started, I have done a little bit of something every day.
“So [I will] reset a bit, mentally and physically, tomorrow, and then take it from there.”
Ranked No 77, Raducanu will rise in the list next week, but has needed wild-cards to participate at Indian Wells as well as the Miami Open presented by Itaú, which starts on 21 March.
She has enjoyed her stay in the California desert, saying: “I’ve been loving my time here. Now the weather is great. It’s so easy, so functional. You can drive everywhere.
“I love driving, personally. I can just go on drives. The roads are so wide and you can just pull up and park and do your business, and it’s not like a nightmare trying to parallel park. I love just the ease…Everyone is really friendly here, which is really nice and warm.”
It may have taken her a while to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road.
“Yeah, I had to get used to that a little bit,” she said. “The first few times I was driving out here I was drifting a little bit – driving on the wrong side, or the right side, whatever. But I’m getting used to it more now.
“What I don’t understand is the stop junction signs, how it’s one car and then another, but who decides who arrived first? Like turning right when [the light is] red, it’s like, what’s going on?”
The Brit was told it is whoever gets there first and then clockwise, to which she replied: “Is it? That’s good to know! Okay. I’ll keep that one in mind….”
Raducanu and her team are focusing on her coming schedule but there seems to be uncertainty as to her participation in next month’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier against France, that is due to be held in Coventry.
Surprisingly, she claimed that she was unaware of the dates, which are the 14th and 15th April.
“I don’t even know when it [the tie] is, to be honest,” Raducanu said earlier this week. “I haven’t thought about it. I’ve just been so in my zone. I’ll decide later.”
The comment baffled GB Team Captain, Anne Keothavong, who was at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and sat in Raducanu’s box during her 1st-round match.
The date of the tie has been known since November, when the ITF made the draw for the qualifiers.
The LTA then confirmed earlier this month that the 6,000-capacity Coventry Building Society Arena has been chosen as the host venue.
Raducanu has already committed to the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, which starts on 17 April, but then Porsche is one of her 9 commercial endorsement deals.
If she is to play both events, the quick transition between surfaces might prove challenging since Britain’s qualifier is being played on a hard court, while the tournament in Stuttgart marks the start of the European clay-court swing on the WTA Tour 2 days later.
It would be a considerable blow to Keothavong if Raducanu did not compete in Coventry, as she is the only British singles player ranked inside the world’s top 100.
Next on the list is Harriet Dart, the No 109, who lost in the 1st-round of qualifying at Indian Wells last week.
Raducanu decided not to play for her country at the United Cup mixed team event in Australia at the start of the season, opting instead to compete in a WTA tournament in Auckland.
She has, however, signed up to compete in Birmingham, making her debut at the grass court tournament, which she was forced to miss last year after suffering a side strain in her grass season opener in Nottingham.
“The British grass court season is always one my favourite times of the year and it was where I made my tour debut two summers ago,” Raducanu said in a statement. “I’m really excited to be making my debut at the LTA’s Rothesay Classic in Birmingham this year, and hearing the support from all the fans who come out to support us in an event that has so much prestige and history.”
Raducanu made history herself in 2021 when she became the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam title and the first British woman to lift a major trophy in 44 years at the US Open.
That year she also made a name for herself during the grass court season, reaching the 4th-round at Wimbledon with her first top 50 victories of her career.
Since then, the 20-year-old reached the WTA semi-final at the Hana Bank Korea Open, as well as quarter-finals in Transylvania, Stuttgart and Washington.
Raducanu will be hoping for a good run in Miami to continue her rise up the rankings.