Emma Raducanu could face the two-time grand slam winner and her idol Simona Halep at the BNP Paribas Open in the Briton’s first tournament since winning the US Open.
Teenager Raducanu, whose stunning triumph last month propelled her from 150th to 22nd in the world rankings, received a wild card entry into the tournament, which is regularly regarded as the unofficial ‘fifth Grand Slam’.
As Raducanu is ranked inside the top 32 players competing, she has received a bye to the second round of the WTA 1000 event in Indian Wells, where she has been drawn to play the winner of the match between world No 71 Maria Camila Osorio Serrano and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the Belrusian world No 100, in a match likely to be on Thursday or Friday this week.
Victory in her first competitive match since her New York triumph will set up an encounter against current world No 17 Halep in the third round if the Romanian defeats the victor of Zhang Shuai versus Marta Kostyuk.
Raducanu, whose father Ian is from Romania and who is due to play there at the Transylvania Open later this month, has previously spoken of taking inspiration from Halep, who won Indian Wells back in 2015 and has two Grand Slam titles to her name at the 2018 French Open and Wimbledon the following year.
Should Raducanu navigate her way through to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, she could also face the daunting prospect of facing five consecutive matches against former Grand Slam winners.
She has been put on the same half of the draw as the current World No 11 Petra Kvitova, who could await Raducanu in the fourth round. Based on the top seeds a potential quarter-final against World No 7 Elina Svitolina could follow, with a last-four clash against Iga Swiatek, the second seed at Indian Wells, lined up if all goes according to the rankings.