Emma Raducanu suffered a shock defeat as Aliaksandra Sasnovich dumped her out of the BNP Paribas Open in what was the British number one’s first match since her fairytale US Open triumph last month.
The Belarusian world number 100 was the more solid player throughout as an error-strewn display from the Bromley-based 18-year-old saw her crash out 6-2 6-4 in just one hour and 25 minutes.
Speaking in her post-match press conference, Raducanu conceded she was second best. She said:
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“Aliaksandra played an extremely great match. You could tell she was more experienced than me, executed her game plan better than me and she deserved to win.
“You get sharp by playing matches and I’m not match tight right now. I’ve not played a competition in a month, since the US Open, and that (sharpness) will come by playing week in, week out.
“So what do I need to work on? I’ll probably go back and review the match, probably tomorrow and look at it with a clear head. From there I’ll be able to plan. It’s going to take me time to adjust to what is going on. I’m still so new to everything. The experiences I’m going through, I mean, I might not feel 100 per cent amazing right now but I know for the greater good and bigger picture, I’ll be thankful for this moment.
That’s the lesson, you can so easily get sucked in by being so focused on the result and getting disappointed. But I’m 18 years old and need to cut myself some slack."
Raducanu, who was granted a wildcard for Indian Wells due to the fact the entry list was published prior to the US Open, arrived on court just 27 days on from her sensational victory at Flushing Meadows and kicked off with a love hold to suggest she was ready to pick up where she left off.
However, Sasnovich had other ideas and followed up a gritty hold from deuce by breaking to love, with a sumptuous lob the pick of her points.
Raducanu was struggling to work out her opponent’s game and looked a shadow of the player who produced such flawless tennis throughout her run in New York with 12 unforced errors blighting a disappointing opener for the Brit. The 18-year-old was easily broken again in Game 7 and the Belarusian deservedly served out a one-sided first set on her second opportunity in just 30 minutes.
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A lengthy opening game to kick off Set 2 also went the way of Sasnovich but just as it seemed she looked certain to pull clear, the jitters set in with a pair of double faults that allowed the Brit to break back.
Suddenly Raducanu had the momentum and she charged into a 4-2 lead, only to allow the lower ranked player to turn the tables once more with a sudden surge of three games in a row. Sasnovich then served out the match to claim a famous victory.
Soaking up the plaudits during her on-court interview, Sasnovich said: “It’s very special. It’s the best tournament for me, it has the best food and the best people. I am really enjoying playing here. I understood that I needed to come on to court and play my tennis and be 100 per cent. Emma has just won the US Open and I lost there in the first round! I just tried to do my best and came to enjoy it.”
On the prospect of taking on Simona Halep in round three after the Romanian saw off Marta Kostyuk 7-6 6-1, she added: “She’s a great champion. It will be an interesting match. Anyone can beat anyone.”
As for Raducanu, the defeat could be a significant blow to her hopes of qualifying for the WTA Finals in Mexico and the teenager may well intensify her search for a full-time coach with Carlos Rodriguez, who helped Li Na on her way to the 2014 Australian Open title, being touted as the frontrunner for the role.
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