Teen sensation Emma Raducanu will make her debut as a Grand Slam champion tonight at the Indian Wells. The 18-year-old, who stunned the tennis world last month winning the US Open as a qualifier, will open play against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Overall, Raducanu has won 14 of her last 15 matches entering the second against the Belarussian who earned a retirement from Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
“It felt nice to receive the support, everyone’s nice messages and kind words,” Raducanu about her triumph in New York. “But I didn’t get too caught up in it.
“I just focused on my tennis and my training.
“The highlight was and always will be the night that I won,” added Raducanu. “After the match, we went back to the hotel, and it was just me and the team having a really nice meal and just chatting and reflecting on the past three weeks. For me, that’s always going to be the highlight, even though all the invitations were very cool.”
Raducanu is also looking to replace coach Andrew Richardson.
“While he’s here, he’s helping me out,” she said. “Going forward, I’m just going to wait and try to find the right person. I’m not going to rush into anything. I want to make sure I make the right decision.”
Also in action for the women as seeds open play is Raducanu’s teen opponent in New York, Leylah Fernandez. The lefty will meet the feisty Alize Cornet.
Former champion Simona Halep is in action against Marta Kostyuk as is Victoria Azarenka. Iga Swiatek, Madison Keys, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic and Sloane Stephens meets Jessica Pegula on a big Friday.
For the men, former No. 1 Andy Murray resumes his comeback against lefty Adrian Mannarino. Since a first round 5-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open, Murray has gone 4-3 during the stretch. He’s 2-0 against Mannarino but the pair haven’t played in over six years.
Americans Jenson Brooksby, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and Brandon Nakashima will also be featured along with Kevin Anderson, Lorenzo Musetti and Holger Rune.
Among the highlights of the first two days, Kim Clijsters fell in three sets to Katerina Siniakova, Victorija Golubic upended Marketa Vondrousova and Stephens beat Heather Watson in three.
“Last week in Chicago, I started off well, but had a few games where I just really wasn’t into the match,” Clijsters said following the loss. “Here too, just looking for my rhythm, my anticipation again, reading my opponents, getting used to playing on a bigger court again, a lot of different things. I fought my way into the match well in that second set, and I kind of put her under pressure a little bit better.
“I think overall, there’s definitely moments where I’m feeling really good out there, and there’s moments where I feel too inconsistent. That’s part of this process in general, it’s not going to be a smooth ride, and that’s what I’m going to try to improve every time I’m out there.”
In the men’s first day yesterday, Americans went 6-3 with Frances Tiafoe, Maxime Cressy, Tommy Paul, Mackenzie McDonald, Marcos Giron and Tennys Sandgren advancing. Steve Johnson was ousted by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 in the third in the match of the day.
FRIDAY INDIAN WELLS SCHEDULE
STADIUM 1 starts at 11:00 AM
WTA – P. Martic (CRO) vs  I. Swiatek (POL)
WTA – M. Kostyuk (UKR) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
ATP – [Q] C. Ilkel (TUR) vs J. Brooksby (USA)
WTA – Not Before 6:00 PM – [WC]  E. Raducanu (GBR) vs A. Sasnovich (BLR)
ATP – [WC] A. Murray (GBR) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)
STADIUM 2 starts at 11:00 AM
ATP – D. Kudla (USA) vs [Q] A. Tabilo (CHI)
ATP – K. Anderson (RSA) vs J. Thompson (AUS)
WTA – Not Before 3:00 PM – M. Keys (USA) vs  A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
ATP – Not Before 6:00 PM – [WC] J. Sock (USA) vs J. Millman (AUS)
WTA – Not Before 8:00 PM –  L. Fernandez (CAN) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
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