Emma Raducanu was dealt a reality check when she fell 6-2 6-4 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round of Indian Wells on Friday, her first match since winning the US Open last month.
It has been 27 days since the 18-year-old astonished the world by becoming the queen of New York in a Cinderella scenario, but she was unable to replicate that level in the Californian desert, falling to Belarussian world No 100.
Raducanu was the featured player in the Friday night evening session, but she failed to live up to her billing as the super attacking style that served her so well at the US Open proved her undoing early on, and she then squandered a second-set lead as Sasnovich won four games in a row to seal the victory.
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This setback for 17th seed Raducanu would have been perfectly predictable if it hadn’t been for that remarkable win last month, since Sasnovich, who is presently rated 100, is a former top 30 player and an experienced head on the WTA Tour.
The Briton is everything but, and despite having a Grand Slam in her trophy case at home, this was only her third tour-level competition, and she has yet to win.
External expectations may have been high, but Raducanu is old enough to recognise that not everything would be smooth sailing.
“I believe it’s going to take some time for me to truly acclimate to what’s going on,” she admitted. “I mean, I’m still learning stuff.
“As the experiences, I’m having right now, even though I don’t feel 100% amazing right now, I know they’re for the larger good.
“I’ll be grateful for this time in the long run.” So, I think the lesson is that it’s easy to get trapped into being so focused on the outcome and being disappointed.
“After all, I’m 18 years old.” I need to be kinder to myself.
“I’m still a newcomer to the tour.” That experience, I believe, comes from playing week in and week out and experiencing all of these different things.
Sasnovich will face Simona Halep in the third round of the WTA 1000 event, while Raducanu will pick herself up and move on to the next, where she will compete in the Kremlin Cup later this month in Moscow.
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) October 9, 2021
Andy Murray won his first-round match against Adrian Mannarino while wearing his wedding band and playing arguably of his finest tennis.
In a 6-3 6-2 win over Frenchman Mannarino, the 35-year-old fared significantly better than Raducanu, playing the type of tennis that used to see him win Grand Slams before having a metal hip.
“It’s good to be back, and I felt like I competed well, and it’s great that so many people came out and supported me,” Murray said during his on-court interview.
“I think I competed well and played within the parameters of the conditions; I don’t feel like I tried to overplay.”
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