The US Open Champion Emma Raducanu’s 11-match winning run has been ended at Indian Wells by 100-ranked Aliaksandra Sasnovich in her first match as a Grand Slam champion.
Belarus’ Sasnovich thrashed the 18-year-old champion by 6-2 6-4 to knock her out in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Raducanu, who is ranked 21st in the world, began the match strongly against Sasnovich holding to love in the opening game in front of an enthusiastic crowd of about 4,000 for the night session. However, a loose service game followed and the US Open Champion was forced into too many errors as her 27-year-old opponent showcased some excellent defensive tennis.
Raducanu was anxious to close out rallies quickly on the slow court, and Sasnovich broke again to love and took the opening set which was the first set Raducanu lost since a three-set defeat by Clara Tauson on 22 August.
Sasnovich broke first in the second set too as she presented the attacking side of her game but two double faults followed in the next and with Raducanu showing some composure, the teenager was able to lead by 4-2.
The improvement was short-lived and Sasnovich won the final four-game of the match to complete a straight-set victory.
The Belarusian will play two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep, after the Romanian overcame Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine 7-6 6-1, in the third round on Sunday.
In the post-match interview, Raducanu said, “We had some great memories together – at the US Open and also previous to that – but I’m looking forward to the next chapter and I think that what I am doing right now is definitely the best for me and my tennis.”
She said: “I think Aliaksandra played a great match. She was better than me today so she deserves to win.
The Grand Slam champion added, “I’m kind of glad that what happened today happened so I can learn and take it as a lesson.”
“There’s going to be a disappointment after any loss. I didn’t go in there putting any pressure on myself because in my mind I’m so inexperienced that I’m just taking it all in.”
The Briton was competing without a permanent coach as she ended her long-term partnership with Andrew Richardson whom she has known since the age of 10.
Raducanu who has received a first-round bye is next scheduled to play at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in 10 days’ time.
Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens, who overcame Britain’s Heather Watson in the first round, lost in straight sets to his American compatriot Jessica Pegula in their second-round match.