Emma Raducano recorded her best win in 18 months since winning the US Open, as she defeated world No. 13 Beatrice Haddad-Maia in a thrilling match under the palm trees in Indian Wells.
Despite her status as a Grand Slam champion, Raducanu is still relatively inexperienced against an opponent of this caliber, having only faced top 20 players on eight previous occasions. But you wouldn’t have known it from the way she tore Maya Haddad from the very first moment, tearing the opening serve to love and then breaking the Brazilian’s powerful left-hand serve at the first opportunity.
Raducanu’s quick start was unexpected—particularly from a woman who arrived in Indian Wells last week in disarray, wearing heavy straps on the wrists and suffering the effects of her recent bout of tonsillitis.
Haddad Maya seemed unfazed by Raducano’s positive shot and early footwork, which made the Briton advance onto the court to open corners at every opportunity. The first set was a mismatch – however Raducanu let the momentum get away early in the second set.
As she said afterwards, “I slid my bum and against a great opponent like Beatrice, it was 6-2 before you knew it.”
This was indeed the case. The blacksmith Maya has begun to apply her physical strength—she’s an imposing 6-foot-tall figure with biceps like steelsmiths—and now Raducanu does most of the retrieves.
Raducano took a bathroom break after the second set. It didn’t seem like Haddad Maya was particularly pleased with the delay, as she was chatting with the umpire of the chair and seemed to say something to Radukano when she eventually returned to court.
But now we saw the best of the match, as both players walked after groundstrokes with aggressive intent. One great rally found Raducanu needing to play six overhead strokes in a row while Haddad Maya danced at the back of the field, dispatching one lob after another in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Andy Murray.
Eventually the pressure was put on Haddad Maya, who fired a backhand into the net to make it 4-3. Now Raducanu was in the driving seat, and she held her nerve admirably despite seeing her first three match points saved by her fearless opponent who ultimately disappointed her.
After 2 hours and 20 minutes of great drama, Raducanu came home with a score of 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. It was only the second time since their trip to the US Open title that they had won three matches at the same event, and Indian Wells was a much bigger deal than Seoul (having reached the semi-finals in September before retiring with an injury).
Indian Wells also has a much larger draw – 96 players against 32 in Seoul – so they are only in the last 16. But this win sure reminded everyone of the qualities that brought her to her incredible title in New York – instinctive. Competitiveness, great heart, great athleticism and vocal technique.
“I’m very happy with the way I fought in the third set,” Raducano said afterwards. “I was able to regain my focus and intensity.
“It’s pretty amazing for me. I didn’t really prepare for this tournament. I didn’t really train. So to come out here and perform at this level and be competitive is a great sign for me.
“I just had an amazing two weeks [of training] Being back home in London, and seeing those who turn up and show up on the pitch at crucial points is very exciting to me at times. Right now I’m focused on getting back, resting and recovering for tomorrow, because this was a tough match in the heat.”
Murray surrenders to Draper
Meanwhile, Andy Murray’s career ended with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 loss to fellow 21-year-old Briton Jack Draper.
“I’ve looked up to Andy since I was very young,” said Draper.
“I watched him win Wimbledon for the first time in 2013 and then I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and practice with him a lot since 2019. He’s a really special person, a great champion and a great human being, and it’s been a privilege to play against him on this court.”
Murray has not won three consecutive matches at a Masters 1000 event since winning the title in Paris in 2016.