Gutsy Emma Raducanu earns best win since US Open title
Emma Raducanou scored her best win in 18 months since her US Open triumph, beating world No. 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia in a thrilling match under the palm trees of Indian Wells.
Despite her status as a Grand Slam champion, Radukanou is still relatively inexperienced in dealing with opponents of this quality, having only faced top 20 players only eight times in previous matches. But you wouldn’t have guessed it from the way she latched on to Haddad Maia from the start, tearing her first serve game to love and then breaking the Brazilian’s powerful left-hand serve at the first opportunity.
Radukan’s quick start was unexpected, especially for the woman who arrived in Indian Wells last week in some disarray, with heavy straps on both wrists and struggling with the effects of a recent bout of tonsillitis.
Haddad Maia appeared to be taken aback by Radukan’s positive shots early in the game and the footwork as the Brit stepped forward into the floor, opening up corners at every opportunity. That first set was something of a mismatch – and yet Radukan let the momentum slip at the start of the second set.
As she later said, “I lost my intensity and against a great opponent like Beatrice, it’s 6-2 before you know it.”
This was indeed the situation. Haddad Maya began to use her physical strength – she was an imposing figure of 6 feet tall with biceps like steel cables – and Radukane now did most of the lifting.
Radukan took a break in the bathroom after the second set. It doesn’t appear that Haddad Maya was particularly pleased with the delay, as she spoke to the referee in the chair and also appeared to say something to Radukan when she eventually returned to the court.
But now we saw the best of the match as both players landed with aggressive intent from the ground. In one great play, Radukan had to play six straight overheads while Haddad Maia danced in the back of the court, sending ball after ball, somewhat reminiscent of Andy Murray.
Eventually, the pressure took its toll on Haddad Maia, who landed a backhand to lose 4-3. Radukane was now driving, and she held her own superbly despite her first three match points being saved by her brave but ultimately disappointed opponent.
After 2 hours and 20 minutes of exciting drama, Radukanu was at home with a score of 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. It was only the second time since her US Open win that she won three matches at the same tournament, and Indian Wells is far more important than Seoul (where she reached the semi-finals in September before retiring from a run). .
Indian Wells also has a lot more players at 96 than Seoul at 32, so she’s only in the bottom 16. But this win certainly reminded everyone of the qualities that led her to a stunning win in New York. , namely innate qualities. competitiveness, big heart, great athleticism and sound technique.
“I am very happy with how I fought and held in the third set,” Radukan later told. “I was able to regain focus and intensity.
“It’s pretty amazing for me. I didn’t really prepare for this tournament. I didn’t practice much. So to come out here and perform at this level and be competitive is a great sign for me.
“I just had two wonderful weeks [of training] at home in London, and sometimes I find it very interesting to see how they come out and show themselves on the playing field at decisive moments. Right now I’m focused on just getting back, resting and recovering for tomorrow because it was a tough match in the heat.”
Murray loses to Draper
Meanwhile, Andy Murray’s streak ended with a 7-6(6), 6-2 loss to 21-year-old Briton Jack Draper.
“I’ve looked up to Andy since I was a kid,” Draper said.
“I first saw him win Wimbledon in 2013 and then I had the opportunity to get to know him and train with him often since 2019. He is a truly special person, a great champion and a great person, and it was a privilege to play against him on this court.”
Murray has not won three consecutive Masters 1000 matches since winning the title in Paris in 2016.