Emma Radukanu stumbled in her first match since winning the US Open last month, losing 6-2 6-4 to Aleksandra Sasnovi in the second round of the Indian Wells tennis tournament on Friday.
The 18-year-old British sensation had an aura of invincibility at Flushing Meadows, where the tournament qualifier didn’t miss a set in 10 matches on the way to a spectacular first Grand Slam title. But it was a different story on Friday under the lights on a stadium court in the Southern California desert as Radukanu struggled with his accuracy and his energy level. As night wore on, unintended errors piled up and he never experienced the court delight that was the hallmark of his success, despite a supportive crowd.
The match started on a very promising note for the 17th seed when he served to start the love affair. But errors began to creep in and the unseeded Belarusian took full advantage, swimming a lob on Radukanu’s spreading racket to claim the first set.
Radukanu was broken to start the second set, but when Sasnovi began to misfire, he returned to take a 4-2 lead. But Sasnovi settled in, winning the final four games and sealing the match when Radukanu sent a service return wide at match point.
Sasnovich will face Simona Halep in the third round of the WTA 1000 event.