Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray suffer first round Miami Open exits

  • Andreescu beats Raducanu 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in first round
  • Underdog Dusan Lajovic coasts past Murray 6-4, 7-5

Emma Raducanu has had a challenging enough time consolidating her success since winning the US Open as a teenager but there have been periods when Bianca Andreescu’s career since becoming a teenage grand slam champion has seemed utterly hellish. The years since her own US Open triumph in 2019 have included a torn meniscus that led to a 15-month layoff, the decision to step away for over four months last season in order to address her mental health and thoughts of retirement. Four years later she is still trying to follow up her salad days.

The past few weeks, though, have been a positive step forward for Andreescu and she continued her progress by halting Raducanu’s. After three tough, intense sets that rose in quality as the pressure mounted, Andreescu’s level was far more consistent as the world No 31 defeated the British No 1 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Miami Open.

Later Andy Murray played poorly against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, who moved into the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 win.

In a sport that moves on so quickly, with each week presenting starkly different conditions and playing styles to conquer, one of the most difficult aspects of professional tennis is not building form but maintaining it. Raducanu enjoyed an excellent week in Indian Wells, beating two top-20 seeds, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette, but days later she was presented with a harsh draw for Miami.

The similarities between Andreescu and Raducanu, who were both born in Toronto and have Romanian heritage, are clear. Now 22 and 20, their respective struggles underline how difficult it is to follow up great early success immediately.

After her own positive week in California Andreescu began the match striking the ball sweetly, dictating with her heavy forehand but also keeping Raducanu off balance with variety, changing the pace and trajectory of shots while throwing in a flurry of dropshots, lobs and forays to net.

As Raducanu settled down early in the second set, the world number 72 forced herself up inside the baseline. The pressure she imposed on Andreescu culminated in a long, brutal game at 4-3. Raducanu’s early ballstriking and aggression generated break points, which Andreescu saved each time with excellent serving. On her seventh opportunity Raducanu drilled a backhand down the line, finally forcing an error from Andreescu after 20 minutes to take the decisive break.

The final set presented opportunities for both but Raducanu threw in a dire, error-strewn service game while trailing 3-2. As Andreescu’s level remained consistent throughout the match, Raducanu’s dropped, errors piled up and defeat came quickly.

After she failed to consolidate her run in Indian Wells, new conditions and playing styles await for Raducanu as she begins only her second clay-court season in Stuttgart next month. Andreescu, meanwhile, faces the seventh seed, Maria Sakkari, as she tries to rediscover her best form.

Unlike Raducanu Murray began as the heavy favourite in his first-round match against Lajovic. Despite starting positively, Murray failed to take his early chances and collapsed when serving late in the set. Although he fought, breaking serve when Lajovic first attempted to serve out the match at 6-4, 5-4, Murray looked flat, considerably slower than in other matches this year, and struggled with timing his forehand throughout. He was outplayed by a considerably better opponent on the day.

Meanwhile Iga Swiatek, defending champion and world No 1, withdrew from the tournament citing a rib injury she sustained towards the end of her time in Indian Wells.

Contributor

Tumaini Carayol

The GuardianTramp

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