Emma Raducanu’s much-anticipated first match as a Grand Slam champion went the wrong way for the teen who was routed in her Indian Wells opener by Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-4.
In front of a sparse evening crowd in the desert, Raducanu couldn’t muster any of the energy she had last month in New York where she stunned the tennis world winning the US Open.
“I think Aliaksandra played a great match,” the 18-year-old lamented. “I had to get used to the conditions. It’s my first time playing in Indian Wells.
“I mean, she was better than me today so she deserves to win.
“I’m kind of glad that what happened today happened so I can learn and take it as a lesson. So going forward, yeah, I’ll just have more experienced banked.”
The Brit entered having won her last 10 matches and 20 sets (all in New York), but finished with 15 winners to 31 unforced. She did lead 4-2 in the second but dropped the last four games.
Sasnovich picked up yet another big win — she advanced over Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
“I saw a few matches of her when she played US Open and Wimbledon as well,” Sasnovich said. “She’s really a talented girl. She has a strong forehand, backhand. She tries to be always aggressive.”
“It was a really good match for me. I play really well. I know she just won US Open. I lost there in the first round. So a little bit different. But I tried to go on court, I tried to enjoy. I did everything right and I’m happy with the result, of course.”
The Belarussian — and not Raducanu — moves on to a Sunday date with former champion Simona Halep. Halep overcame a slow start to dismiss Marta Kostyuk 7-6(2), 6-1. Halep was playing her first match as a newly-married 30-year-old.
“I think the first set was a little bit tougher because I didn’t play for long time before coming here, so I was a little bit nervous, but she played good tennis. But the second set, it was much better. I felt much more confident,” she said.
US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez made a strong debut easing past the tricky Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-3. She’ll now meet the French finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“It does give me a lot of confidence because Alizé, she’s a very tough opponent,” Fernandez said. “I’ve watched her play on tour. She fights for every point. I’ve practiced with her, too. We’ve had some tough practice matches. I knew that today was going to be hard.
“I’m just glad I was able to get the win. It gives me confidence moving forward.”
Also advancing were Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, Iga Swiatek, Victoria Azarenka and Jessica Pegula who knocked out Sloane Stephens.
On Saturday, Bianca Andreescu opens her title defense and top seed Karolina Pliskova, Coco Gauff and Garbine Muguruza are also in action.
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