Indian Wells: Ranked 100 in the world, Aliaksandra Sasnovich brought an end to Emma Raducanu's 10-match winning streak, with a 6-2, 6-4, in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.
Sasnovich will face 2015 champion Simona Halep for a spot in the Round of 16 on Sunday.
Coming into the second-round duel, Raducanu was riding a 10-match winning streak from her historic title run at the US Open, where she reeled off 20 consecutive sets through qualifying and the main draw to become the first British woman to win a major since Virginia Wade in 1977.
In contrast, Sasnovich, who reached a career-high No.30 in 2018, had just one Top 50 victory in a completed match this season.
Yet despite her sub-par 2021 season, the Belarusian has a proven track record of being a seed-slaying danger in the early rounds of big events. The 27-year-old had already notched 15 top 20 wins in her career, including victories over Petra Kvitova at 2018 Wimbledon, Elina Svitolina at 2018 Brisbane, and Karolina Pliskova at 2016 Tokyo.
"I saw a few matches of her when she played US Open and Wimbledon as well," Sasnovich said. "She's really a talented girl. She has a strong forehand, backhand. She tries to be always aggressive."
"It was a really good match for me. I play really well. I know she just won US Open. I lost there in the first round. So a little bit different. But I tried to go on court, I tried to enjoy. I did everything right and I'm happy with the result, of course."
Raducanu started the match right where she left off in New York, coolly reeling off the first six points with clean first-strike tennis. With both players looking to play offensive tennis, Sasnovich weathered the early surge and began to find consistent depth off the baseline. The Belarusian broke first to open up a 3-1 lead and broke the Raducanu serve again for a 5-2 lead, closing the opening set after 30 minutes.
Both players tallied 8 winners apiece in the first set, but Sasnovich was far cleaner, hitting just 4 unforced errors compared to Raducanu's 12. She was also the more opportunistic, converting both her break point chances while never giving the Brit a look to break her serve once.
But the turning point was the battling back from a break down to lead 4-2 in the second set, Raducanu played a poor game to fall behind a quick 0-40. She did well to find two big first serves to close the gap to 30-40, but netted a regulation backhand to hand back her hard-earned break advantage.
Sasnovich seized the moment and wrenched back the momentum from there, breaking Raducanu for a fifth time to 5-4 and then serving out the match for a straight-set win after 1 hour and 25 minutes.
76.2% Second serve 57.1%
11 Break points 5
17 Winners 15
19 Unforced errors 31
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