Published On: Mon, Mar 11th, 2024

Emma Raducanu crashes out of Indian Wells as top 10 woes continue against Aryna Sabalenka | Tennis | Sport

Emma Raducanu’s Indian Wells campaign came to an end at the hands of Aryna Sabalenka on Monday night. The 2021 US Open winner was seeking her first career victory over a top 10 player on her sixth attempt but the world No. 2 proved too powerful, surviving a wobble to come through 6-3 7-5.

Raducanu faced the biggest challenge of her comeback so far as she came up against second seed Sabalenka, who started the season by successfully defending her Australian Open title. But the Belarusian had run into some trouble since her strong start to the year.

She crashed out in her opening round in Dubai and was forced to save four match points against Peyton Stearns on Saturday. Raducanu had a very different experience in her last round, racing to a 4-0 double-break lead before her opponent was forced to retire after just 21 minutes.

The Brit was looking to turn her 0-5 record against top-10 players on its head against Sabalenka but the world No. 2 came out in red-hot form, taking an early break lead at 4-2. Last year’s runner-up looked to be storming through the opener as she had set points on Raducanu’s serve a game later.

But the world No. 250 fought back to keep herself alive and kicked into life, winning eight of the next nine points as it was Sabalenka who was suddenly in trouble. After failing to break for a second time, the 25-year-old faced four break points while serving for the set.

She eventually got the job done, firing down 19 winners in a 38-minute first set. Sabalenka’s powerful hitting continued into the second as she broke for 3-2. This time, the 21-year-old refused to let her opponent pull away and finally converted her sixth break point of the night as the Australian Open champion grew frustrated.

She received a warning from the umpire after shouting what appeared to be an obscenity while Raducanu took advantage of Sabalenka’s lapse in concentration, setting up another break point chance to give herself a shot at serving for the set. But the 14-time title winner shut the door, getting out of the game unscathed.

Sabalenka’s relentless power returned as she composed herself following a wobble in the middle of the set, and she managed to earn another break with the help of some costly mistakes from Raducanu.

The world No. 250 made a last-ditched attempt to keep herself in the match with three more break points but Sabalenka held her nerve, finally converting her fourth match point after taking the scenic route in set two.

It means that Raducanu’s losing streak against top-10 opposition continues. A former world No. 10 herself, the Brit has never even taken a set off of a player in the elite group of the rankings, despite her best efforts against Sabalenka in the second half of the match.

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