Emma Raducanu suffers first round Miami Open exit to Bianca Andreescu

Emma Raducanu has had a tough enough time consolidating her career since winning the US Open as a teenager, but there have been periods when Bianca Andreescu’s experience as a former teenage grand slam champion has seemed utterly hellish. The years since her own US Open triumph in 2019 have included a torn meniscus that led to a 15 month layoff, the decision to step away for over four months last season, and considering retirement over her flatlining form and in order to address her mental health. Four years later, she is still trying to progress.

The past few weeks, though, have been a positive step forward for Andreescu and her development by halting Raducanu’s. After three tough, intense sets that rose in quality as the pressure mounted, Andreescu outfought the British No 1 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Miami Open.

In a sport that moves on so quickly, with each week presenting starkly different conditions and playing styles to conquer, one of the most difficult aspects of professional tennis is not building form, but maintaining it regardless of the challenge ahead. Raducanu enjoyed an excellent week in Indian Wells, beating two top-20 seeds, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette, but before that tournament had even finished, she was presented with a hideous Miami Open draw.

The similarities between Andreescu and Raducanu, who were both born in Toronto and have Romanian heritage, are clear. Now 22 and 20, their respective struggles underline how difficult it is to immediately follow up suchgreat early success.

Bianca Andreescu hits a forehand at full throttle against Emma Raducanu
Bianca Andreescu hits a forehand at full throttle against Emma Raducanu. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Andreescu enjoyed her own positive week in California, pushing Iga Swiatek in two intense sets during their third round match, and it was the Canadian who swiftly carried that momentum on to Miami. She started out far more positively, dictating from inside the baseline with her heavy forehand but also keeping Raducanu guessing with variety: changing the pace and trajectory of shots and throwing in a flurry of dropshots, lobs and net forays. Andreescu gave her opponent no time to breathe, and, after a slow start, Raducanu did well to hang on to her serve towards the end of the set.

Those holds allowed Raducanu to settle down and from early in the second set she forced herself forward on to the baseline. The pressure she imposed on Andreescu culminated in a long, brutal game at 4-3. As Raducanu generated break points, particularly striking her forehand with increasing confidence, Andreescu saved each breakpoint with breathless aggression of her own. On her seventh opportunity, Raducanu did not hesitate to drill a backhand down the line to force an error from Andreescu and take the decisive 20-minute game.

Chances were presented for both players in the final set, both fending off break points early on, but at 3-2 down Raducanu threw in a dire, error-strewn service game. Andreescu pounced and cruised to victory after sealing the first break of the set. Raducanu’s level was far too turbulent against a consistent opponent and she played poorly down the final stretch, her forehand gifting errors until the end.

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Having been unable to consolidate her run in Indian Wells, Raducanu will have to restart her season as she begins her second clay swing in Stuttgart next month. Andreescu, meanwhile, faces an even greater challenge against the seventh seed, Maria Sakkari, as she tries to rediscover her best form.

Meanwhile, Iga Swiatek, the defending champion and world No 1, withdrew from the Miami Open citing a rib injury she sustained towards the end of her time in Indian Wells.

The Guardian