(Reuters) -Emma Raducanu scored her biggest win since a run to the U.S. Open title beating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-1 2-6 6-4 to reach the fourth round at Indian Wells on Monday while Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from her match after a talk with the WTA boss that she says triggered a panic attack.
Sidelined by a string of injuries and illnesses that have kept her out of action since the Australian Open, Raducanu has so far enjoyed her stay in the Southern California desert showing flashes of the form that carried her to the 2021 U.S. Open title.
The win marked just the second time since her surprise run at Flushing Meadows that Raducanu has strung together three consecutive match wins.
A straight sets win over Danka Kovinic was followed by victory over Polish 20th seed Magda Linette and an even more impressive triumph against the 13th ranked Brazilian Haddad Maia.
It was a disappointing day for Leylah Fernandez, who Raducanu beat in the final two years ago, as the Canadian fell 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-1 to fifth seed Caroline Garcia.
Even though the match required three sets and nearly two-and-a-half hours to determine a winner the fifth seeded Garcia was rarely under pressure from her opponent who managed just two break chances and could not convert either.
Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka moved into the round of 16 when Tsurenko withdrew as the Ukraine conflict became a point of tension in the tournament.
Shortly before her match on Monday organisers announced that Tsurenko had withdrawn for personal reasons.
The Ukrainian qualifier later told Big Tennis website those personal reasons were a panic attack brought on by a conversation the 33-year-old had days earlier with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Belarus has been used as a staging ground for what Russia has called a special operation in the Ukraine.
“Officially it will be written ‘personal reasons’, but in fact it is breathing problems and, one might say, hysteria,” said Tsurenko. “I was absolutely shocked by what I heard.
“He told me that he himself does not support the war, but if the players from Russia and Belarus (do), then this is only their own opinion, and the opinion of other people should not upset me.
“At the same time, he noted that if this had happened to him and he had been in my place, he would have felt terrible.”
Responding to a request for comment, the WTA told Reuters it has “consistently reflected our full support for Ukraine and strongly condemn the actions that have been brought forth by the Russian government.”
On the men’s side of the draw defending champion and fourth seed Taylor Fritz steamrolled into the fourth round with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Sebastian Baez.
Fritz kept the 35th ranked Argentine under constant pressure throughout breaking him six times to set up a round of 16 meeting with Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.
Evergreen 37-year-old Swiss Stan Wawrinka advanced with an 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5 upset of seventh seeded young gun 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark.
While Fernandez headed to the exit there was one Canadian winner on Monday with eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime taming Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 7-5 6-4.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam)