Emma Raducanu marked her injury comeback with a fine 6-2 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Raducanu’s participation in her first match since losing to Coco Gauff in the second round of the Australian Open in January had been doubt after she revealed the wrist problem she was troubled by last season has returned.
But the British number one, who withdrew from last week’s event in Texas and an exhibition tournament earlier this week, delivered a composed performance, despite clearly not being at 100 per cent, to progress to the next stage.
Raducanu practised in Indian Wells on Wednesday with strapping on both wrists, but it was the 20-year old’s recent bout of tonsillitis which appeared to be causing her the most discomfort throughout Thursday’s match.
Raducanu lost the opening two games but broke back in the third before capitalising on a string of unforced errors from Kovinic to win six consecutive games and take the opening set in 33 minutes.
However, despite her first-set triumph, Raducanu was struggling with her breathing between points, and lost the first two games of the second set.
Yet, just as in the first, the British star immediately broke back, winning four successive games en route to booking her spot in the next round to claim only her third win of an injury-hit season in one hour and 22 minutes.
She will face Polish player Magda Linette for a place in the third round.
“It was a good match,” said Raducanu. “Danka is an extremely difficult opponent. I was expecting a battle and I am just glad to get through.
“I am happy I stuck in. Being a break down is obviously difficult, but mentally I just took it one point at a time.”
Looking ahead to her next opponent, Raducanu added: “Magda has had a great season and her results prove that. I am looking forward to the match and happy to be playing another round at Indian Wells.”
Earlier, Jack Draper secured an impressive 6-1 6-1 win over Leandro Riedi to reach the second round.
Draper, who was playing his first match since losing to Rafael Nadal at the first hurdle of January’s Australian Open, required just 56 minutes to see off Swiss qualifier Riedi.
The 21-year-old will play fellow Briton Dan Evans for a place in the third round.
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