Emma Raducanu rekindled her 2021 US Open form to battle past Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-1 2-6 6-4 in Indian Wells and qualify for the Last-16.
Raducanu’s impressive performances at the event before this match had come despite her feeling the effects of illness and injury, and she had beaten increasingly superior opponents to this point, seeing off world No. 62 Danka Kovinic in her tournament opener, and then defeating Poland’s 20th seed Magda Linette in the second round.
Monday’s draw was no different, pitting her against Brazilian 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, but Raducanu wasn’t interested in what the rankings said, with the Brit flying out of the blocks early on.
After holding to love to begin the match, Raducanu broke immediately in the next, cantering to 4-1 up, where she broke again, and then served out with minimal fuss to take it 6-1.
A stunning start for the 20-year-old, as her serving and game from the ground was leaving her more experienced opponent with few answers.
Regrettably for Raducanu, that all changed as the second set got underway, as Haddad Maia seemed to change up her tactics and find considerably more joy as a result.
In an almost complete role reversal of the first set, this time it was Haddad Maia who begun with a hold to love, then a break and then put her foot on the accelerator to move away from Raducanu.
She did that to such an extent that she secured a second break of the Brit’s serve, taking the set 6-2 and levelling up a by now compelling match.
Emma Raducanu of Great Britain in action against Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in her third-round match on Day 8 of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 13, 2023 in Indian Wells, California.
Image credit: Getty Images
The third set was the enthralling decider the match had deserved, with both players keeping their composure to come through pressure moments.
It felt like one break could be key, and it was Raducanu that got it.
At 3-3, the 20-year-old – now back in the ascendancy from the baseline – snapped up a break point, and then held her nerve on her own serve to go 5-3 up.
The tension was palpable under the baking hot Californian sky, even more so when Raducanu brought up match point in the next game on Haddad Maia’s serve.
The Brazilian saved that one, and then another as she fought back for 5-4.
But Raducanu, back on her own serve, was not to be denied, serving it out calmly before dropping her racket in what looked like a mixture of relief and disbelief at her triumph.
Speaking afterwards, Raducanu said: “I’m extremely happy with the way I fought and dug in in the third set. I think I dropped a bit my intensity in the second, against such a great opponent like Beatriz that’s enough and a 6-2 set before you know it. So I was very happy with how I managed to regain my focus and intensity and come back in the third.
“For me its pretty amazing, I haven’t really prepared for this tournament, I haven’t really practiced so to come out here and play at this level and be competitive is a great sign for me.
“I did put in two great weeks back home in London and to see those coming through and showing on the match court at crucial points sometimes is really exciting for me.
“It’s incredible out here, the support was so good and I think for both of us today it was really up there and I just love playing in front of an atmosphere and a passionate crowd. I’m so happy to be at Indian Wells. It’s one of my favourite tournaments.”
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