INDIAN WELLS: Former US Open champion Emma Raducanu rallied from a break down in each set to beat Danka Kovinic 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday and reach the second round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters 1000.
Britain’s Raducanu avenged a 2022 Australian Open second-round loss to the Montenegrin as she continued her fightback from various ailments that have slowed her 2023 campaign.
Raducanu had shut down her 2022 season early with wrist trouble and hurt her ankle in her second match of 2023 in Auckland.
She pulled out of the WTA event in Austin last week with tonsillitis and withdrew from a pre-tournament exhibition here when her wrist trouble flared up.
"It was a good match for me to get through," said Raducanu, who was down 0-2 in both sets. She polished it off in an hour and 21 minutes, breaking Kovinic to love in the final game.
"I played her at AO and it was quite the battle," Raducanu said. "I’m happy I stuck in."
Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, was just one of the former Grand Slam winners in action in the California desert, where the 32 men’s and women’s seeds -- led by Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek -- enjoyed first-round byes.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka fired 17 winners in a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory over Australian qualifier Aleksandar Vukic to set up a second-round clash with 26th-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.
Wawrinka, a former world number three now ranked 100th, has had two left knee and two left foot surgeries since he reached the Indian Wells and Roland Garros finals in 2017.
But he arrived in the California desert, where he’s playing for the first time since 2019, having reached the quarter-finals at Rotterdam and Marseille.
Former world number one Andy Murray of Britain took on Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Dominic Thiem faced France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Austria’s Thiem, who beat Roger Federer in the 2019 Indian Wells title and won the 2020 US Open, is on the comeback trail after hurting his right wrist in 2021 and missing eight months.
Murray, meanwhile, is battling to return to the top after undergoing hip replacement in 2019. Ranked 55th in the world, he gained confidence with a battling run to the final in Doha, where he overcame eight match points in four matches before falling to Daniil Medvedev in the final.
In the night session, 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens took on 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin in an all-American clash.
In other matches Thursday, Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis booked a second-round clash with top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over US wild card Brandon Holt.
American Ben Shelton defeated Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-1 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded defending champion Taylor Fritz.
Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up, dropped a second straight decision against an opponent ranked outside the top 50 as she fell 6-4, 6-4 to 80th-ranked lucky loser Dalma Galfi.
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