Emma Raducanu, who rose to tennis stardom after a stunning run to the U.S. Open championship last month, lost her first match as a Grand Slam champion on Friday.
The 18-year-old British player, seeded 17th, fell 6-2, 6-4 to 100th-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
Raducanu received a first-round bye in the tournament.
Sasnovich, 27, said post-match, “I understand that I needed to go for it, to play 100 percent. I know that Emma just won the U.S. Open and I lost there in the first round, so a little different.”
Raducanu said, “She was better than me today, and she deserved to win. There’s going to be disappointment after any loss. I didn’t go in there putting pressure on myself. She played a great match. You could tell she was more experienced than me. She executed her game plan better than I did. She deserved it.”
Ranked 150th when arriving at the U.S. Open, Raducanu won 10 consecutive matches to claim the title. She first had to navigate three qualifying matches, then rolled through the main draw, becoming the first woman to win the U.S. Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014.
She subsequently withdrew from the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic before resuming action Friday in the Southern California desert.
Leylah Fernandez, the 19-year-old Canadian who lost to Raducanu in the U.S. Open final, won her Indian Wells opener Friday. The 23rd seed cruised past France’s Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-3.
In other second-round action, second-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland won 79.2 percent of her first-serve points while cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Croatia’s Petra Martic.
Swiatek won nine of the first 10 games en route to the 71-minute victory.
“I just wanted to be aggressive from the beginning and not let her play her game,” Swiatek said. “In the second set, I lost focus for one game and she broke me pretty fast, so I knew I just had to keep going and not stop for a second time.”
Swiatek will next face 25th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, who posted a 6-2, 6-3 victory over fellow Russian Liudmila Samsonova.
Fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine notched a 6-2, 7-5 victory over the Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova. Ninth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia rolled to a 6-3, 6-1 win over American Madison Keys, and No. 11 Simona Halep of Romania registered a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.
Lucky loser Jasmine Paolini of Italy scored an upset by dispatching 14th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 2 hours, 49 minutes.
Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, seeded 24th, rolled to an easy 6-3, 6-0 win over Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan, while No. 27 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus advanced when Magda Linette of Poland retired with an ankle injury while trailing 7-5, 3-0.
Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu topped No. 31 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland 7-5, 6-1, and No. 32 Sorana Cirstea of Romania recorded a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Japan’s Misaki Doi.
Also winning were the United States’ Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula, the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova and Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.
–Field Level Media