Emma Raducanu is through to the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open following an impressive 7-6(3), 6-2 win over recent Australian Open semifinalist Magda Linette.
It wasn’t the ideal start for the 2021 US Open champ – who has struggled for consistency amidst injury and illness since her signature victory in New York two seasons ago – as she fell behind a break early. Raducanu rebounded just in time as Linette attempted to serve for the set at 5-4, punishing the Pole’s second serve and jumping on top of opportunistic short balls from her opponent.
Linette has made a name for herself as a player that the top players wanted to avoid at the early stages of the big tournaments (she upset Ons Jabeur in the first round of the French Open last year), but it’s a completely different feeling now that she’s ascended to top-player status herself.
Raducanu, having struggled with her own “hunter vs. hunted” dichotomy, was then primed for the upset on paper after securing the opening set in a tiebreak. Seemingly untethered from concerns over her wrist that had bothered her in the first set, she cruised through the final set playing the same early-strike tennis that fans have come to admire since her Major triumph in 2021.
Up next for Raducanu is either Katerina Siniakova or No. 13 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia
Over on Stadium 1 court, Karolina Muchova upset two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, who was bidding to become the first player since the tournament’s inception to win it three times.
Azarenka struggled with both the wind and her own consistency – perhaps intertwined – in the straight sets loss to her Czech opponent, who already had the benefit of a match under her belt to feel out this year’s tricky conditions in the Palm Desert.
Muchova, for her part, was sensational when it mattered, attacking the net at even the faintest glimpse of a defensive slice shot from the former World No. 1. Often beset by injuries and having to work her way back up the rankings, the 26-year-old Czech is currently in the latter phase following an injury-marred 2022 campaign.
Unseeded and looming this fortnight in the palm desert, Muchova is back to full health and form, which should worry any opponent unlucky enough to face her in the next few rounds.
Other early results include upset wins by Marketa Vondrousova and qualifier Varvara Gracheva over Marie Bouzkova (seeded 28th) and Petra Martic (seeded 25th) respectively.