Monday, June 27, 2022

Emma Raducanu: British No 1 defeats Caroline Garcia to make winning start at Indian Wells

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British No 1 Emma Raducanu showed no ill effects after hurting her leg in Mexico just over two weeks ago to defeat Caroline Garcia in three and set up a meeting with Petra Martic in the third round at Indian Wells on Sunday; “Murray inspired me to dig in when it got tough”

Last Updated: 12/03/22 12:15am

Emma Raducanu defeated Caroline Garcia to make a winning start at Indian Wells on Friday

Emma Raducanu showed glimpses her US Open winning form to defeat Caroline Garcia in Indian Wells after shrugging off injury fears.

The teenager suffered a leg injury in a marathon match in Mexico two-and-a-half weeks ago and feared she would have to miss the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, one of the biggest tournaments on the WTA Tour.

But she passed a late fitness test to take her place in the main draw and the teenager made the most of her opportunity with an impressive performance to overcome world No 69 Garcia 6-1 3-6 6-1.

“I’m so happy to have just got my first win in the desert here and I hope to come back for many more years. I think the level of tennis was pretty high today so it means a lot to come through that because it could have gone either way,” Raducanu said during her on-court interview.

Raducanu has faced a number of obstacles as she seeks to build on her remarkable New York triumph.

A bout of coronavirus disrupted what was her first proper pre-season, and she was hampered by blisters at the Australian Open, losing in the second round.

After picking up another injury in Guadalajara, it appeared doubtful she would make an appearance in California. But the world No 11 took a liking to the conditions and swept through the first set for the loss of one game.

The 19-year-old was aggressive and accurate in her shot-making to leave the former world No 4 bewildered.

She appeared to maintain her high level in the next by breaking in the opening game, but then her levels dropped, giving Garcia time on the ball to move 4-2 up.

They then shared breaks before Garcia finally came through a marathon ninth game, closing it out on her sixth set point.

Raducanu needed to refocus and she did so by surging through the first three games, pouncing on her opponent’s increasing error count before winning 12 points in a row from 3-1 up to claim a superb win.

“To get this win after a stop-start year that I’ve had at the beginning means a lot and I’m really happy to have given myself another opportunity,” Raducanu, who watched Andy Murray seal his milestone 700th tour-level win, told Amazon Prime Video.

“It was great to see Andy battle through that match and I kind of wanted to follow him, learn from him. He kind of inspired me to dig in when it got tough.”

She will now meet Petra Martic in the third round on Sunday after the Croatian upset 19th seed Tamara Zidansek 7-5 7-6 (8-6).

Raducanu’s Billie Jean King Cup team-mate Harriet Dart meets Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina later on Friday.

Watson, Boulter bow out; Osaka wins in three sets

Heather Watson and Katie Boulter were knocked out on Thursday

Heather Watson and Katie Boulter were knocked out on Thursday

After British players won their first nine matches of the tournament combined, there were defeats for qualifiers Heather Watson and Katie Boulter.

A strong desert wind was the defining feature of matches but Naomi Osaka battled through it to claim her first career win over Sloane Stephens, fighting past the American 3-6 6-1 6-2 in round one.

Osaka, the champion in 2018, had not played a tournament since the Australian Open, after which she plummeted well outside the top 50.

Osaka trailed 2-0 in the third set against her fellow former US Open champion Stephens and fought off three break points to hold and begin a run of six straight games to close out the match.

“Sloane is such a champion,” said Osaka. “Hopefully, next time we play will be in more ideal conditions.

“I felt like I was fighting for my life. I was playing against her, I was playing against the wind. It was crazy. I just kept thinking she was going through the same circumstances as me, so I just had to will myself to try as hard as I could.”

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