Emma Raducanu finds form against Linette to advance at Indian Wells

  • Briton beats 20th seed 7-6 (3), 6-2 despite wrist problem
  • Jack Draper will face Andy Murray after beating Dan Evans

Emma Raducanu continued to make encouraging progress at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells as she reached the third round there for the first time with a tight 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over Magda Linette of Poland, the 20th seed.

Her fourth win of the season marked the first time since September that Raducanu had won consecutive matches. Linette, the world No 21, is also the Briton’s highest ranked victim since her US Open win in September 2021.

Despite entering Indian Wells still recovering from tonsillitis and wrist problems, managing her body by minimising her time on the practice court, Raducanu was encouraged by a solid and resourceful performance in her straightforward first round win over Danka Kovinic.

A far more capable opponent awaited in the second round. At 30, Linette, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in January, has been present on the tour for a long time and her late-career surge is a reflection of her pairing her slick counter-punching with a more proactive mindset.

From early in the match, however, their approaches starkly contrasted. Raducanu, the clear aggressor, started the match desperate to take the initiative, demolishing forehands whenever the opportunity presented itself. Linette initially countered well, drawing out errors from Raducanu with her consistency and escaping from difficult positions with her resourcefulness in defence. After five games, Raducanu’s average forehand speed was clocked at an absurd 80mph but she trailed Linette 4-1.

As she searched for solutions, Raducanu found a better balance in her approach, pairing her aggression with a flurry of loopier top-spin balls that arrested Linette’s rhythm as she pulled herself back into the match. Raducanu’s controlled aggression gradually broke Linette down, and by the end of the first set the Pole looked extremely uncomfortable.

Despite how well she performed, Raducanu was clearly still feeling pain in her wrist, which she continually shook out in the first set. Before serving for the set, she called the trainer, who gave her a painkiller. Raducanu adapted well. While wrist problems can make it difficult to impart topspin, she opted to strike flatter and harder than usual. With the first set secured, she powered through to the third round.

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In each of Raducanu’s three tournaments this year she has been affected by physical problems, but on the court there have been ample positives and a clear sense of progress with her new coach, Sebastian Sachs. Raducanu will return on Monday seeking to continue her positive momentum as she faces Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 13th seed.

Great Britain’s other prominent young talent, Jack Draper, triumphed in an all-British battle, defeating the 24th seed, Dan Evans, 6-4, 6-3. A fascinating first match-up with Andy Murray now awaits in the third round on Monday.

Murray continued his brilliant start to the season by easing past Radu Albot, a lucky loser, 6-4, 6-2, to reach the third round. Murray had been due to face Pablo Carreño Busta but the 15th seed withdrew with an injury on Saturday. After countless dramatic recoveries from the brink of defeat with many match points saved, Murray’s victory over Albot is his first straight sets win of the season.


Tumaini Carayol

The GuardianTramp

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