A month after her shock US Open victory, Emma Raducanu is set to make her return to action this week. The 18-year-old, who shot from no 150 in the world to no 22 after winning her maiden Grand Slam title, has been given a wildcard for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
Not only will it be Raducanu’s first tournament as a major champion, it will be her first WTA 1000 event – the top tier outside of the four Grand Slams – and only the fifth time that she has competed in the main draw on the WTA Tour. It’s entirely new ground for the teenager, and it comes with the potential opportunity of moving closer to a place at the season-ending WTA Finals in Mexico, and making it into the top 10 in the world rankings.

Can Raducanu get into the top 10?

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After soaring up the rankings in New York, it’s possible that Raducanu could make another jump over the next fortnight. As she is such a newcomer to the WTA Tour she is in a unique position of having no points to defend until next summer. Others above her in the rankings need to perform well at Indian Wells otherwise they will drop down the rankings. World no 21 Bianca Andreescu was the champion at Indian Wells in 2019 and will lose a lot of points unless she can make another deep run. World no 15 Angelique Kerber, who was the Indian Wells runner-up in 2019, also has points to defend, while players who performed well at the rescheduled 2020 French Open, such as Iga Swiatek and Sofia Kenin, are set to lose those points this month. With so much movement, Raducanu is provisionally into the top 20 before Indian Wells even starts.
As Indian Wells is a WTA 1000 event there are plenty of points on offer. The winner of the tournament will get 1000 points, the runner-up 650, and semi-finalists earn 390.
It’s impossible to predict how high Raducanu could climb as how her rivals perform will also impact her, but victory would likely push her near the top 10. She is currently ranked no 22 in the world and has 2,558 ranking points to her name. Another 1,000 points would take her into 12th place, above Osaka, who is on 3,326 points, but that is not taking into account that other players could move up or down depending on their performances.
Raducanu will be seeded 18th at Indian Wells which means she will get a bye in the first round of the tournament. If she were to lose her first match she would get 35 ranking points to add to her total. If she makes the quarter-finals she would get 215 points, with a maximum of 1000 points available to the champion.

Can Raducanu secure a place at the WTA Finals?

The top eight players in the world compete at the WTA Finals, with the rankings based on yearly performance rather than the overall singles rankings, which are done on a 52-week window that has currently been extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Raducanu is no 22 in the world but in the Race to the WTA Finals rankings she is No 15, on 2282 points. Osaka is in eighth place on 2771 points, with world no 1 Ashleigh Barty leading the way on 6411 points. However, both Barty and Osaka could miss the finals, which may open up opportunities for two more players to compete in Mexico.
As it stands, if Raducanu was to win Indian Wells she would move to 3282 points, which would be good enough for fifth place in the Race to the WTA Finals rankings.
Raducanu will be seeking more ranking points after Indian Wells as she heads back to Europe to compete in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and the Transylvania Open in Romania, the birthplace of her father. The Kremlin Cup is the last WTA 500 tournament of the season – with 470 points on offer for the winner – and the Transylvania Open is a WTA 250 tournament with 280 points going to the champion.

How have other first-time champions fared?

With such a meteoric rise this summer, Raducanu is breaking new ground, but there have been plenty of other first-time major winners on the WTA Tour over the last few years. Since the start of 2017 there have been 10 different first-time champions – and very few have enjoyed more success immediately after becoming Grand Slam winners.
Jelena Ostapenko won just one match at the Aegon International in Eastbourne after her shock French Open victory in 2017. Sloane Stephens struggled initially after lifting the US Open later that year, losing in the first round of the Wuhan Open and then not winning another match until February 2018.
Caroline Wozniacki headed to St Petersburg after winning the 2018 Australian Open and lost in the second round, while Simona Halep was beaten in the third round of Wimbledon after her 2018 French Open win. Osaka almost followed up her maiden US Open win in 2018 with another trophy as she made the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

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Barty went one step better in 2019 as she won the French Open and then switched to grass and immediately won the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, beating Julia Gorges in the final.
Belinda Bencic made the quarter-finals of the China Open after her surprise 2019 US Open win but has struggled since, as has Kenin after her 2020 Australian Open victory.
Swiatek only made the second round of the Gippsland Trophy after her 2020 French Open win but Barbora Krejcikova enjoyed a good month after winning in Paris this year as she made the last 16 at Wimbledon and then won in Prague.

Who else is playing Indian Wells?

The women’s field will be missing some big names as Barty, Osaka, Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka are all out. Barty has gone back to Australia to see her family while Osaka is taking time away from tennis and Williams is recovering from the injury that kept her out of the US Open.
World no 2 Sabalenka was set to be the top seed with Barty absent, but she has tested positive for Covid-19 so will miss the tournament.
Her withdrawal means Karolina Pliskova will be the top seed.
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