from The Guardian

Emma Raducanu suffers a defeat in straight sets against Aryna Sabalenka in Indian Wells, as reported by The Guardian.

from The Guardian Emma Raducanu suffers a defeat in straight sets against Aryna Sabalenka in Indian Wells, as reported by The Guardian.

Rephrased: There are few things more beneficial for a tennis player than facing one of the top players in the world and evaluating their own performance. Emma Raducanu had this chance on Monday when she played against Aryna Sabalenka, a seasoned grand slam winner looking to maintain her success.

Strapped into the hot seat against the second-ranked player in full flow, Raducanu gave a strong account of both her quality and resilience in two competitive, high-quality sets before Sabalenka’s immense weight of shot and confidence in the decisive points guided her to the fourth round at Indian Wells with a 6-3, 7-5 win.

Sabalenka commented, “The match was challenging, she played exceptional tennis. I am ecstatic about my performance today, and I am overjoyed to have advanced.”

At the beginning of the week, Raducanu defended a significant portion of her ranking. But, after a strong week in California, she leaves the desert with a sense of optimism. This is especially important as she works to regain her rhythm and confidence after undergoing surgeries on her hands and ankle last year. Despite her progress, she has yet to defeat a top-10 opponent in her career, with an overall record of 0-6 against top players.

During her first two games, Raducanu performed consistently against Rebeka Masarova, a qualifier, and had a strong start against the 30th seeded player, Dayana Yastremska. However, Yastremska retired from the match due to stomach pain while being behind 4-0 in the first set.

However, competing against Sabalenka is a significant jump in the level of skill and effort needed to match her top-notch performance. It also takes a strong mindset to withstand her dominance and continue seeking opportunities. In her match against Peyton Stearns on Saturday, even when facing multiple match points on her opponent’s serve, Sabalenka maintained control and ultimately turned the match in her favor.

Raducanu got off to a strong start, winning two clean service games to get into the flow of the match. However, as Sabalenka found her footing and consistency with her groundstrokes, it seemed that most points were won by her and the difference in their pace and strength was notable. Whenever Raducanu missed her first serve, Sabalenka fiercely capitalized on her second serve, resulting in numerous winners.

Despite being behind 2-5 and facing a 15-40 deficit, Raducanu refused to give up in the set. She focused on getting her first serves in and confidently took the ball early, using Sabalenka’s powerful shots to her advantage. After successfully holding her own serve, Raducanu returned with impressive skill, earning four break points in Sabalenka’s next service game. While Raducanu applied pressure, Sabalenka demonstrated her talent by delivering strong serves and shots during crucial moments to ultimately win the set.

Sabalenka comfortably took a 3-2 advantage in the second set with her powerful shots, but Raducanu displayed resilience once again. Despite facing strong shots, she returned effectively and capitalized on Sabalenka’s errors. This allowed her to control the court and take the lead.

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During the second set, Raducanu competed on equal terms with the champion of the Australian Open, gradually gaining confidence in her baseline shots. However, Sabalenka is currently playing the best tennis of her career, filled with an unwavering sense of assurance and conviction. When it mattered most, she rose to the occasion and defeated Raducanu in two closely contested sets.

In another location, during her last match as a teenager, Coco Gauff, the champion of the US Open, advanced to the fourth round after defeating Lucia Bronzetti 6-2, 7-6 (5).

In the men’s tournament, Cameron Norrie was narrowly beaten by Gaël Monfils, who made a strong comeback and advanced to the fourth round with a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory. At 37 years old, Monfils is expected to return to the top 50 rankings next week, making him the oldest player in the group.