Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu rallied from a break down in each set to beat Danka Kovinic 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday and reach the second round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters 1000.
Britain’s Raducanu avenged a 2022 Australian Open second-round loss to the Montenegrin as she continued her fightback from various ailments that have slowed her 2023 campaign.
“I’m happy I stuck in,” said Raducanu, who had shut down her 2022 season early with wrist trouble and hurt her ankle in her second match of 2023 in Auckland.
Raducanu had shut down her 2022 season early with wrist trouble and hurt her ankle in her second match of 2023 in Auckland.
She pulled out of the WTA event in Austin last week with tonsillitis and withdrew from a pre-tournament exhibition here when her wrist trouble flared up.
But she said the litany of problems only made her more determined.
“I just love competing,” Raducanu said. “Even when it’s against you and you’re just through it, I think having something that, that you are going through, kind of gives you in some ways more incentive.
“Like, ‘OK ‘I’ve got to be aggressive or dominate — there’s somethign to really cling onto and use.”
Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, was just one of the former Grand Slam winners in action in the California desert, where the 32 men’s and women’s seeds — led by Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek — enjoyed first-round byes.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka fired 17 winners in a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory over Australian qualifier Aleksandar Vukic to set up a second-round clash with 26th-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.
Wawrinka, a former world number three now ranked 100th, has had two left knee and two left foot surgeries since he reached the Indian Wells and Roland Garros finals in 2017.
But he arrived at Indian Wells, where he’s playing for the first time since 2019, having reached the quarter-finals at Rotterdam and Marseille.
Former world number one Andy Murray of Britain took on Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Dominic Thiem faced France’s Adrian Mannarino.
– Kokkinakis to face Alcaraz –
Austria’s Thiem, who beat Roger Federer in the 2019 Indian Wells title and won the 2020 US Open, is on the comeback trail after hurting his right wrist in 2021 and missing eight months.
Murray, meanwhile, is battling to return to the top after undergoing hip replacement in 2019. Ranked 55th in the world, he gained confidence with a battling run to the final in Doha, where he overcame eight match points in four matches before falling to Daniil Medvedev in the final.
In the night session, 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens faces 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin in an all-American clash.
In other matches Thursday, Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, ranked 94th in the world, booked a second-round clash with top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over US wild card Brandon Holt.
American Ben Shelton defeated Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-1 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded defending champion Taylor Fritz.
Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up, dropped a second straight decision against an opponent ranked outside the top 50 as she fell 6-4, 6-4 to 80th-ranked lucky loser Dalma Galfi.
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