Emma Raducanu defeated Danka Kovinic in the first round of Indian Wells 6-2 6-3 on Thursday.
Montenegrin Kovinic is ranked No. 60 in the world in women’s tennis, and at 28 has plenty of experience compared to her rival, 20 years her junior.
Both players broke each other in the opening three games of the first set, as Raducanu trailed 2-1.
However Raducanu continued to build upon that momentum and then broke again as she moved 4-2 clear, with three breaks helping her to win the first set 6-2.
Kovinic calmed herself in the break and went 2-0 up with a break of her own as the pair contested the second set in America, but Raducanu repeated her steely comeback from the first set, and another three break points gave her a 6-3 win in the set, and the match to take her into the second round.
“It was a good match for me to get through,” Raducanu said. “I think that Danka is an extremely difficult opponent. I was expecting [a battle] going into today, and I’m just glad to get through.
“I’m happy I stuck in. Being a break down is difficult, of course, but I think mentally, I just took it one point at a time.”
The injury had blighted her 2022 campaign, and had strapping on both of her wrists during a practise session on Wednesday.
The injury caused her to bring her involvement in last year’s competitions to a premature end, and she also missed the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, and most recently she withdrew from the Eisenhower Cup on Tuesday, where she had been scheduled to compete in the mixed doubles with Cameron Norrie.
Tonsillitis prevented her from playing in the ATX Open in Austin, Texas, last week, with fitness concerns meaning she has played only four matches this season.
Despite the concerns, she proved too good for Kovinic – sealing the win in an hour and 21 minutes – and will look to build into the event.
Magda Linette will be Raducanu’s opponent in the second round, and the Brit is expected a tough test.
“She’s had a great season so far,” Raducanu said. “Her results prove that and I know that from the match we played in Seoul, that it was quite physical.
“I’m looking forward to the match and I’m just so happy to be playing another round here in Indian Wells.”
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