Emma Raducanu and Jack Draper are the future of British tennis, as they simultaneously underscored last night by making the third round at Indian Wells.
Draper set up a potential match with Andy Murray by overcoming the more experienced Dan Evans in an all-British clash, while Raducanu gave a timely reminder of her gifts by beating world number 21 Magda Linette 7-6 6-2.
It had been another complicated week for Raducanu, but it ended with her best win by ranking since the US Open nearly eighteen months ago.
Raducanu suffered a recent bout of tonsillitis and had been complaining of problems in her wrist a few days ago, but for all that she struck the ball purposefully with a ruthless performance that seemed to unsettle her opponent. She was left awaiting the winner of Czech Katerina Siniakova and Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia.
She needed some medication to keep her wrist at bay, but you would hardly have known it, judging by the sweetness and power of her forehand.
Emma Raducanu will advance to the third round at Indian Wells after beating Magda Linette
Jack Draper (pictured) overcame compatriot Dan Evans to also progress to the next round
Raducanu defeated her opponent (pictured) 7-6 6-2 following her bout with tonsillitis
From the start Raducanu looked more comfortable than she had in the first round, which was played in a difficult breeze.
She struck the ball positively, but Linette is much improved this season, as shown by her run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The Pole profited from a couple of sloppy volleying errors to move ahead for 4-1, but Raducanu was already causing her problems with her heavier pace on the ball.
There was also no sign of the coughing from her first match, and she deservedly got back to 4-4 and then decisively broke for 6-5. It was then that the British player saw the physio and took a painkiller as she pointed to the strapping on her right wrist.
In the next game she was broken to love, but in the tiebreak Raducanu – her defence out wide especially impressive – got ahead early and was the more composed as she took it 7-3.
Confidence has been an elusive thing in another stop-start season for the former US Open champion, but it was clearly seeping back in she broke for 3-1. Linette was looking forlorn by the end as she was broken again, Raducanu having displayed to a packed crowd her unusual talent and determination.
On a neighbouring court Draper, 21, was coming out better of a rare all-Brit clash at this level, beating Evans 6-4 6-2 after a real tug-of-war in a lengthy opening set. His reward would be a match against Murray if the veteran could outpoint Moldovan Radu Albot later last night.
Both Draper and Evans were short on recent matchplay, having struggled with injuries in the past month, but this was another fine performance from the younger player after his startlingly good first round.
It was an interesting clash of styles, with the powerful lefthanded game of the GB number four having to smoothly function against the deft handskills and mix of angles and slices that Evans brings to the court.
Neither player could dominate the first set with breaks going either way early on. A key factor, however, was Evans having problem landing a first serve in, and Draper took full advantage.
While his serve and forehand may be eyecatching, Draper possesses and excellent return and defensive game, and that was enough to bring him a total of four breaks of serve.
Earlier on doubts had emerged about Raducanu’s participation in next month’s Billie Jean King Cup qualifier against France in Coventry next month.
The Brit had been complaining of some problems in her wrist and needed some medication
Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong has raised her eyebrows at Raducanu’s suggestion that she did not know when the tournament is set to take place
Her claim that she is unaware of when Britain are next playing appeared to have caused a distinct raising of the eyebrows from Captain Anne Keothavong.
Ahead of the second round, Keothavong took the unusual step of using Twitter to express surprise at the admission of her number one player.
‘I don’t even know when it is, to be honest,’ the former US Open champion said. ‘I haven’t thought about it. I’ve just been so in my zone as I’ve said. I’ll decide (on my participation) later.’
Keothavong responded to one report of her comment with a thinking face emoji. Separately she posted the observation, seemingly in reference to that: ‘My communication skills are generally good in case anyone was wondering.’