INDIAN WELLS, California - World No.100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich ended Emma Raducanu's 10-match winning streak on Friday night, defeating the reigning US Open champion 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 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 wins over Top 20 players 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."
"The best food, the best people!" 🍰— wta (@WTA) October 9, 2021
Aliaksandra Sasnovich lets the people of Indian Wells know they are 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒷𝑒𝓈𝓉!#BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/2ZPSFoTYeu
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. Sasnovich 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 eight winners apiece in the first set, but Sasnovich was far cleaner, hitting just four 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.
Sasnovich broke after a prolonged opening game of the second set, breaking through on her fourth break point of the game to gain the immediate advantage. But Raducanu dug in and refused to let Sasnovich run away with the match. The Brit earned her first break point of the match in the very next game and broke immediately to level at 1-1.
Raducanu continued to pressure the Sasnovich serve from there. Sasnovich was able to save three break points to hold to 2-2, but Raducanu broke again, this time from 0-40, to lead 4-2.
Turning Point: Raducanu's lead would be short-lived. After 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-sets win after 1 hour and 25 minutes.
READ: Raducanu hungry to close experience gap after Indian Wells exit - 'I need to cut myself some slack'
Stat of the Match: Sasnovich kept the pressure on Raducanu's serve all night by taking advantage of the Brit's second serve. While the two were fairly comparable in their success rates against the first serve, Sasnovich won 76.2% of her second-serve return points, while Raducanu won 57.1%. Her ability to pressure Raducanu's serve earned 11 break points for the match, while Raducanu generated 5.
Sasnovich finished the match as the cleaner player off the ground. She fired 17 winners to just 19 unforced errors, while Raducanu hit 15 winners to 31 unforced errors.
Petra Kvitova win sets up showdown with Victoria Azarenka
No.7 seed Petra Kvitova moved into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open for the seventh time in her career with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.
In the first meeting between the two veteran left-handers, Kvitova weathered a closely contested patch in the early second set to earn a comprehensive victory in 1 hour and 16 minutes.
Kvitova swept to an initial 4-0 lead and won the first set in half an hour, but the World No.68 Rus picked up her play as the second set started. The Dutchwoman forced Kvitova into a six-deuce game at 1-0, then saved four break points to hold for a 2-1 lead.
Kvitova used her thunderous forehand return for a critical break for 3-2, then charged to the win from there, picking off the last five games of the match.
Kvitova will next face No.27 seed Victoria Azarenka, in an intriguing face-off between two-time Grand Slam champions. Kvitova leads the head-to-head 5-3.
Leylah Fernandez wins her Indian Wells debut
Making her main-draw debut, US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez defeated Alizé Cornet 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the third round, where she will face No.9 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Seeded No.23, Fernandez played unrelenting tennis to reel off the first five games of the match before Cornet pulled back two games. Showing no signs of rust, Fernandez fired 24 winners to 16 unforced errors in her first match since New York.
"It does give me a lot of confidence because Alizé, she's a very tough opponent," Fernandez said. "I've watched her play on tour. She fights for every point. I've practiced with her, too. We've had some tough practice matches. I knew that today was going to be hard.
"I'm just glad I was able to get the win. It gives me confidence moving forward."
Jessica Pegula stops Sloane Stephens to keep WTA Finals bid going
No.19 seed Jessica Pegula came into Indian Wells at No.14 in the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals and if the American can duplicate her 2021 success at the WTA 1000 level over the fortnight, she could find herself in a qualifying position for the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara. Facing compatriot Sloane Stephens in her opener, Pegula dominated behind her serve to win 6-2, 6-3.
Pegula won 88% of her first serves and 79% of her second serves to keep Stephens' dangerous return game at bay. Pegula did not face a break point in the match. Afterward, Pegula was asked to describe her mindset as she enters the season homestretch. She joked that she's barely holding it together.
"I'm currently, like, gluing my freaking nails on with super glue right now, that's where I'm at honestly," Pegula said. "I just spilled stuff on my shirt. This is where I'm at. Last tournament of the year, besides Billie Jean King Cup, I'm starting to lose it.
just trying to be honest 😂😂😂😂— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) October 9, 2021
"No, I had a little kind of not break, but in between US Open and Chicago, I got to reset a little bit. Played a couple of good matches there. Lost to Ons, who has been playing really well. Lost to her in three sets. I came in here feeling pretty confident. I'm getting married on the 22nd. Honestly, I just want to compete really well and kind of go day by day. Really just not give in, just fight, really tough it out."