Emma Raducanu marked her injury comeback with a fine 6-2 6-3 victory 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 was in doubt after she revealed the wrist problem she suffered from 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, put in a composed performance, despite clearly not being 100 per cent, to progress to the next stage.
Raducanu practiced with bands on both wrists at Indian Wells on Wednesday, but it was the 20-year-old’s recent bout of tonsillitis that seemed to cause her the most discomfort during Thursday’s game.
Raducanu lost the first two games, but broke back in the third before taking advantage of a series of unforced errors by Kovinic to win six straight games and take the opening set in 33 minutes.
However, despite her win in the first set, Raducanu struggled with her breathing between points and lost the first two games of the second set.
But, as in the first, the British star bounced back immediately, winning four consecutive games en route to booking her spot in the next round to claim only her third victory of an injury-stricken season in one hour and 22 minutes .
She will face Polish player Magda Linette for a spot in the third round.
“It was a good game,” Raducanu said. “Danka is an extremely tough opponent. I was expecting a battle and I’m just glad I got through it.
“I’m glad I stayed in it. Being a meltdown is obviously hard, but mentally I took it point by point.”
Looking ahead to her next opponent, Raducanu added: “Magda has had a great season and her results prove it. I am looking forward to the game and happy to play another round in Indian Wells.”
Previously, Jack Draper pulled off an impressive 6-1 6-1 victory over Leandro Riedi to reach the second round.
Draper, who played his first match since losing to Rafael Nadal at the first hurdle of the Australian Open in January, took just 56 minutes to beat Swiss qualifier Riedi.
The 21-year-old will face compatriot Dan Evans for a spot in the third round.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-4 in a grueling three hour and twelve minute match.
The veteran Scot gave up the opening set in a tiebreak before storming home to set up a second round meeting with world number 17 Pablo Carreno Busta.